RHAMPHICARPA FISTULOSA (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Agriculture)

News-CRUX-10     10th April 2024        

Context: A recent report revealed that Rice vampireweed (Rhamphicarpa fistulosa), a facultative, parasitic weed infesting rice in Africa, has impacted over 140,000 farm households and incurred annual losses of $82 million to the continent's economy.

Rhamphicarpa fistulosa

  • About: It is commonly known as rice vampire weed, is a prevalent and troublesome facultative parasitic weed in Africa.
  • Distribution: R. fistulosa is extensively distributed, being reported in 35 countries across Africa.
  • Impact of Rice Production Increase: The surge in rice cultivation in rainfed lowlands has magnified the significance of R. fistulosa, as these are its favored habitats.
  • Host Specificity: Although capable of parasitizing various crops, rice stands out as its primary host, hence the moniker "rice vampire weed".
  • Host Range: Apart from rice, R. fistulosa targets other cereal crops such as sorghum and maize, along with dicots like soybean and groundnut.
  • Parasitic Dependency: While capable of independent growth, R. fistulosa exhibits accelerated reproductive output when parasitizing a suitable host.
  • Impact on Crop Yield: Parasitism by R. fistulosa significantly impedes host growth and seed production, resulting in substantial yield losses averaging between 24% to 73%.
  • Limited Control Measures: Farmers often lack adequate knowledge and resources to combat R. fistulosa, resorting primarily to post-emergence herbicides or manual weeding for control.