Stakeholders worry over cassava brown streak disease
Stakeholders in the Cassava sector have expressed worry over rising cases of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD), currently causing up to 90 per cent cassava yield losses in East and Central Africa, where it is currently prevalent.
At the just concluded joint action meeting, convened by government of Benin Republic, in partnership with the West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) Project, with support by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), in Cotonou, they raised the alarm that if is not urgently curtailed from East and Central Africa, it will add to Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), susceptible to the continent, which had caused 40 to 70 per cent losses that can translate into economic loss of $2b to $3b yearly in sub-Saharan Africa.
The meeting, held to respond to possible spread of CBSD to West Africa, which brought together Ministers and stakeholders in cassava sector from 12 African countries, with representatives from WAVE partners in the UK, Department for International Development (DFID), and national, regional and international cassava stakeholders, resolved that cassava protection and its sustained production would remain crucial to attaining the continent’s food security and employment generation.
Main objective of WAVE is to sustainably increase the production of Root and Tuber Crops in Africa through the development of control methods and effective management of viral disease affecting these plants.
They noted that cassava protection and growth remains crucial to Africa’s food security and employment generation, particularly West Africa.To actualise this, they resolved that there must be synergy of governments, stakeholders in cassava, agriculture, farming organisations, researchers, and academia to remove impediments against the produce and boost its value chain.
Mr. Horsch of BMGF in his remarks said quick response to epidemics is crucial and that if six per cent sustainable support is given by governments to agriculture in Africa, it would impact correspondingly on the economy.In her presentation, McGowan of the DFID said the UK has been proud to support WAVE on its project’s journey over the last three years.
“What the WAVE team has achieved in just three years is truly inspiring, they have laid the groundwork for an effective regional response to cassava viral disease threats in West and Central Africa.”WAVE Executive Director, Dr. Justin Pita re-emphasised the need to be proactive against possible outbreak of CBSD, noting that the disease affects the leaf, stem and roots and yield loss, which could be as high as 90 to 100 per cent.
Director of the National Root Crop Research Institute NRCRI Umudike, Abia State, Prof. Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi, who commended WAVE said: “Through WAVE, we have been educating and building farmers’ capacity on cassava and its diseases. WAVE has updated our laboratory and thus improved our staff productivity. WAVE has thus given more impetus to discovering more new improved cassava varieties.”