By Rose Kasigwa.
Cassava farmers have been advised to take precautions by making sure at the start of the season, they plant clean planting materials.
Dr. Henry Wagaba a scientist with National Crops Resources Research Institute notes with concern the two common diseases that have posed a challenge to farmers as the Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) which is a devastating disease that causes loss of cassava root (tuber) production and quality.
He also points out the cassava mosaic virus disease which causes low yields. He explains that the disease can be recognized on the cassava leaves which have spots ranging from light green to yellow. The disease is given to the plant by the whitefly.
He says, this disease cannot be cured but it can be avoided. To prevent the cassava mosaic virus disease a farmer needs to use cuttings which have not been attacked by the disease.
Dr. Wabaga says the two diseases have negatively affected the production of cassava in the country stands at 70 percent. He says that apparently the production of cassava stands at 5.4 metric tonnes however, this is at a lower side. He says in an effort to address the challenge a team of researchers at Namulonge Research Institute are working hard to breed varieties that can withstand diseases and more tolerant to the harsh environment. He says that however the varieties do not last forever so a farmer needs to replenish after three to four years.
He says the team is also using other methods like Genetic Engineering approach. He however explains that these are not yet ready and as research continues this may be completed within three or four years. Dr Wagaba dismisses fears of some farmers that this type of cassava stems may not be used to be replanted in new seasons adding that they have been tested in various parts of the country and says cassava is vegetatively propagated and the stems will always germinate.
Cassava is regarded as food security crop in various places in the country especially the north and many parts in westnile it is the main staple food crop consumed by all.
Cassava leaves inflected by cassava disease
Tuber symptoms consist of dark brown necrotic areas within the tuber.