Update PhD research Simon N’cho

This updates includes a short overview of the first part of my PhD field research in Benin and my second period (June-September 2012) at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. During those two periods, the main activities I have conducted include field and farmer survey, data management, preparation of the complementary data collection in Benin and baseline data in Cote d’Ivoire, the descriptive and econometrics data analysis, seminar presentation, draft reports and manuscript writing. The field research in Benin is focused only on Rhamphicarpa fistulosa in rain-fed inland valley rice system because it is the only dominant parasitic weed in those systems.


In Benin, I have started my field work by an exploratory tour in the country. I have visited 16 rice production communes across the country to discussed with rice producer communities. Finally, I have randomly selected around 250 rice farmers in 5 communes where the Rhamphicarpa weed was found in the inland valleys to implement the field research. These 5 sites appear in the 3 regions (Colline, Alibori and Atacora) sharing more than 80% of both national rice production and area cropped. Then, I have conducted some community group discussion; farmer survey and field observation, measured the size of close to 300 rice plots’ using the GPS. I have also measured the severity of the Rhamphicarpa infestation using density quadrant and field observation.


Back to Wageningen, I have completed the descriptive data analysis, modelling of factors affecting Rhamphicarpa infestation and the severity of infestation. I have also, successfully completed a summer courses on the static and dynamic efficiency analysis approaches. This is a valuable input for me as it will help to improve on the efficiency analysis of rice farmers weeding strategies under the sub-objective 3 of my project.  

At AfricaRice, Cotonou, Benin, I gave a PhD seminar on 18 May 2012 on the preliminary descriptive analysis results. These results show that the majority of rice farmer are aware of the problem. Farmers perceive the Rhamphicarpa weed as an increasing threats for rice production in the country. However, they don’t have any prevention method nor an effective control strategy. The Rhamphicarpa weeds cause some farmers to abandon their plots. For example, in one village in central Benin, farmers reported that they abandoned their inland valleys 3 years ago because of the steady increase of  Rhamphicarpa weed pressure.

The modelling of factors affecting Rhamphicarpa infestation and severity show a variety of agro climatic, socioeconomics characteristics and mainly farmer management options. I will give a PhD Seminar on 20 of September 2012 entitled: “Assessing agronomic and socioeconomic factors affecting Rhamphicarpa fistulosa infestation severity in lowland rain-fed rice farms in Benin” in RADIX, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

The ongoing review of literature on parasitic weed shows few sources on Rhamphicarpa in rice.

Way forward

I have planned to complete the community based research in Benin and the baseline survey in Cote d’Ivoire this year. The community based research will help to shortlist the so-called promising weed management strategies that will be used by PhD-project 2 to conduct community trials in Tanzania. The baseline survey in Cote d’Ivoire captures (in addition to the key data collected in Benin) the climate change issues and farmers’ adaptation strategies.

For more information please check the website of PhD-project 3, or contact Simon N'cho.