In Eritrea, my native country, agriculture constitutes a major source of the national economy; nevertheless it is seriously threatened by many biotic constraints, among them weeds and fungal diseases of field crops are of tremendous importance. They contribute significantly to annual production losses and this is reflected on the low living standards of the Eritreans who are mostly subsistent farmers.
The weed which has now become a menace to sorghum and pearl millet production is Xanthium strumarium (cocklebur). Farmers usually employ inefficient traditional methods for controlling this and other weeds as well. Control measures applied by the department of crop protection in the Ministry of Agriculture do not always prove effective. Unless necessary measures are taken for controlling this weed, great economic losses are expectable in areas where it forms a real threat to crop production.
Various practices such as mechanical removal of the weed, prescribed burning and application of herbicides can bring about control of the weed. However, since young plants regenerate readily from the lower nodes, mowing is not an effective control measure of cocklebur. Chemical herbicides are very expensive and are unaffordable by most farmers. The adverse effects of constant use of chemical compounds have led in case of other weeds to the emergence of different resistant weed varieties.
Xanthium strumarium is an alternative host of the powdery mildew fungus Sphaerotheca fuliginea which infects various crops including cucurbits and okra among other important vegetable and field crops in the country. This, inevitably, aggravates the problem and leads to more losses. Therefore, application of other methods such as natural microorganisms, known as bioherbicides has become necessary for the biological control of weeds.
Considering importance of the basidiospores in pathogenesis and the meagre information available at present on factors affecting germination of the teliospores and susceptibility of the host plants to infection by the pathogen at different stages of growth, an investigation is urgently needed to provide basic information concerning Puccinia xanthii which may be useful in future for incorporation of this pathogen in the integrated management programs as a mycoherbicide against Xanthium strumarium. This situation has caused me to seek further qualification in the field of weed management as my unswerving aim and to apply to the IUPAC International Congress and the Next Generation Agri Summit in Ghent, Belgium.
The general objective of my research project is looking to reduce the economic losses resulting from the damages caused by the noxious weed Xanthium strumarium to the different crops, and also to reduce the cost of the mechanical removal of the weed and that is, by application of the rust pathogen Puccinia xanthii as a mycoherbicide against the weed.
Based on the above facts I would like to express my keen interest in joining this congress. By participating in the congress I will have a platform to exchange ideas and to learn from the scientists who come from different angle of the world and also I will create good networking with many agriculturists at different levels with the same or similar problems. I believe that through active cooperation with agriculturists in other countries and through participation in national, regional and international conferences and workshops and by establishing effectual joint projects, all weed problems threatening crop production in the country will eventually come to an end. I look forward to being an active participant and benefiting from the uniquely tailored program. Thank you in advance for considering my application.
Awet Haileslassie Araya, Eritrea