Biopesticides and Biocontrols

CABI works in partnership with Zambian Government to help distribute cassava cuttings for healthier crops

21 February 2023, Zambia: CABI is working in partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) to promote the growth of healthier cassava crops in Zambia.

Recent efforts have focused on training and distribution of disease-free cassava cuttings to 500 smallholder farmers in the Nsama District of Northern Province.

The initiative follows a campaign in August last year to curb the spread of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) which can lead to a total loss of crop and severely impact food security and the livelihoods of farmers and their families.

Estimated losses due to CBSD in Zambia are around 55% of total cassava production, equivalent to monetary losses of over US $500,000. But it is believed that planting disease-free cuttings can help reduce the spread and impact of CBSD.

A recent CABI-published evidence note on CBSD, states that the disease, relatively new to Zambia, threatens the development of the country’s cassava sub-sector.

This includes increased demand for cassava tubers from Zambia Breweries, Zhongkai international, Itabwa Investments and Sunbird Bioenergy Zambia Ltd who need over 50,000 tonnes of annual cassava feedstock for brewing, mining, confectionary and biofuel production.

Dr Sydney Phiri, SPS scientist, Food Safety based at CABI’s centre in Lusaka, said, “We are very happy that the Government has come to the aid distributing cassava cuttings to farmers. CABI, being a committed member of the partnership to fight Cassava Brown Streak Disease, is happy to be working in partnership to further work and mitigate the impacts of this devastating disease.”

Steward Katele, District Commissioner, Nsama District, told farmers and members of the community as the cuttings were being delivered that the Government has responded positively and in very good time for the district to be more food secure again.

Daniel Chansa, a farmer in Nsama District told ZNBC TV who reported on the news of the cassava cuttings distribution that he encourages fellow farmers to put the cassava cuttings to good use. “We may not have another opportunity like this one,” he said.

The beneficiaries of the cassava cuttings have so far been trained on the correct cultivation and management of the cassava crop and look forward to reaping a harvest free from CBSD.

A stakeholder meeting held during the August campaign also agreed on a response plan to curb the spread of the disease. This includes better diagnostics, phytosanitation at the farm and community level and the development of a seed system to ensure farmers can get access to improved and disease-free planting materials.

CABI’s PlantwisePlus programme will seek to support Zambian farmers towards the attainment of the country’s vision to manage the CBSD menace which has seen affected regions report substantial losses. This has been due to severe hard rots in harvested roots and a reduction in root quality caused by pitting and constrictions

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