Observations on the current status of Orobanche and Striga problems worldwide.
Species of Orobanche and Striga are among the most damaging parasitic weed species worldwide, but there are few reliable statistics on the full extent of the economic losses they cause. The distribution, host range and economic importance of the major species of Orobanche and Striga are briefly summarised. A review of literature over the period since 1991 suggests that many million hectares are infested and that the losses amount to $ US billions annually. Unfortunately there are almost no fully reliable figures on which to base these figures precisely. Meanwhile, there is little evidence of any significant change in intensity, range or losses caused over this period. Any reduction in the importance of these damaging weeds is sporadic, and alleviation of the problems is mostly localised. Furthermore, while the importance of Orobanche species may be broadly static, Striga species on cereals continue to become more serious in many countries owing to continued loss of soil fertility. It is suggested that new techniques may be needed for measurement of the extent of losses caused by these genera and their economic impact. There is continued urgency to develop control measures appropriate to the farming systems involved, and to reduce the risk of spread of both groups of parasite to new areas.