The parasitic weed Striga hermonthica, commonly known as witchweed, is one of the main pests devastating cereal crops in sub-Saharan Africa, where it can cause an estimated 40-80 percent yield loss in pearl millet and sorghum.
This parasite thrives in fields with very low soil fertility and frequently cultivated with cereals. It attaches itself to the roots of pearl millet, sorghum, maize, rice and other cereals, and sucks the nutrients out of healthy plants causing widespread damage.
Witchweed infestation can be very rapid if not properly managed. A single mature witchweed plant can produce up to 200,000 tiny dust like seeds that can easily spread via contaminated crop seeds, farm tools, wind, water and animals, and can stay viable in the soil for up to 10 years or more.