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Tanzania scientists raise concern at destructive Parthenium plant
DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian scientists and agricultural experts said on Sunday they planned to meet authorities to discuss about devastating effects of a killer plant scientifically called Parthenium hysterophorus which was fast killing livestock and wild animals.

The scientists said the plant has wreaked havoc in the east African nation’s northern tourist regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro, and Mara region, home to the Serengeti National Park.
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Ally Said Mbwana, a research scientist from the Arusha-based Horticultural Research and Training Institute, said the scientists will on Monday meet the Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mrisho Gumbo, to discuss about the devastating plant.

"Parthenium hysterophorus is a silent killer that is going unnoticed," said Mbwana.

He added: "Many households in Arusha have been shrouded by the killer plant as it has a tendency of outgrowing other plants and it is sad to see some people using it to sweep their compounds."

Mbwana said the killer weed was allelopathic hence exudes chemicals into the ground inhibiting growth of surrounding plants including favorable crops and forage grasses.

"It is a serious invasive plant species that needs attention. It has potential to have great negative impacts on agricultural and grazing lands, wildlife, as well as human and animal health," said the scientist.

He said the invasive plant was hard to control due to its allelopathic and fast growing prolific nature, adding that early detection and rapid response were needed in order to control it effectively.

Mbwana said the killer plant was fast spreading into the country because of its closeness to the neighboring country of Kenya.

"The killer weed is now headed to rangelands, authorities in the national parks need to be on alert," he warned.

The killer plant is said to have arrived in Ethiopia in the 1980’s, and despite the best efforts of scientists throughout East Africa, it spread to Somalia and Kenya. It likely arrived in Tanzania around the year 2000, although it was not officially identified until 2010.

Charles Bonaventure, Technical Advisor with ECHO East Africa Impact, said the scientists were planning to meet the Arusha Regional Commissioner to find ways of mitigating the effects of the killer plant.

 

Tanzania scientists raise concern at destructive Parthenium plant | Coastweek

 
WIKIPEDIA -- Parthenium hysterophorus plant with flowers, Central Queensland. Parthenium hysterophorus is a species of flowering plant in the aster family, Asteraceae. It is native to the American tropics. Common names include Santa-Maria, Santa Maria feverfew, whitetop weed, famine weed, and congress weed. In India, it is locally known as carrot grass, congress grass or Gajar Ghans. It is a common invasive species in India, Australia, and parts of Africa. Parthenium hysterophorus invades disturbed land, including roadsides. It infests pastures and farmland, causing often disastrous loss of yield, as reflected in common names such as famine weed. In some areas, heavy outbreaks have been ubiquitous, affecting livestock and crop production, and human health. As an invader it first appeared as a contaminant in imported wheat. The plant produces Allelopathic chemicals that suppress crop and pasture plants, and allergens that affect humans and livestock. It also frequently causes pollen allergies.
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"This is a silent killer which is going unnoticed by a good number of Arusha residents, not all people know about it, which is why we are meeting the regional commissioner in view of raising awareness and seeking ways of stopping its spread," he said.

He said the killer plant has in the recent past claimed dozens of livestock and that as researchers they were worried of its spread.

"What worries us the most is the fact that Parthenium also reduces the biodiversity of grazing land, and this will decrease the ability of the land to support livestock and wild animals that depend on native grasses for grazing," said the expert.

Bonaventure said it was also important to engage fellow researchers and scientists from the government to seek ways of ending the problem.

             

 

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