Invasive weeds threaten Nigeria

Published: Tuesday 15 April 2008

Typha australis: choking off l (Credit: IRIN)A species of cattail grass, Typha australis, is taking over river banks and farmlands in the wetlands of Nigeria's Jigawa state, disrupting farming and fishing activities, said the state environment commissioner Yusuf Mato while releasing a feasibility study on the control strategy of the weed.

"Fishermen cannot fish in the river because it has been taken over by the grass... it has crippled economic activities, destroying fishing as well as farming," said Mato. The areas worst affected by the weed are the districts of Birniwa, Guri, Kirikasamma, Auyo and Hadejia. The state government says it needs us $ 6 million to control the weed. Locally called kachalla, Typha australis has an entangled roots system that spreads rapidly, blocking waterways.

Agricultural researchers say the weed was first noticed in Nigeria in 1972 during a dam construction in the state. Since then, the weed has spread and covered almost 10 per cent of Jigawa's total landmass. Currently, the weed is spreading at a rate of 10 per cent and tackling it may not be easy, they say.

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