Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top international scientists recommend increase in public funding for cassava sector

Researchers at the IITA side event in Accra
International top-level scientists from the cassava world have urged African governments to increase public funding for the cassava sector. In the long-expected event “Productivity, Processes and People: Adding Value to Cassava” organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on 16 July 2013 at the 6th African Agricultural Science Week in Accra, disease control, technology development in cassava processing, and women’s participation in cassava research were identified as priorities for boosting the sector’s impact on food security in Africa.
“Increasing funding for cassava research and processing across the value chain by including women in decision making roles is necessary for the future of the continent. It contributes to the creation of jobs for the youth, better livelihoods for smallholder farmers, reduction in hunger and poverty, and food security for all ”, says Dr Elizabeth Parkes from IITA.
Cassava in Africa is threatened by two devastating diseases, Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), leading to potential losses in food security and livelihoods of 135 million people in East Africa alone, and the 300 million cassava consumers in Africa as a whole.
Both diseases are caused by viruses and transmitted by small insects called whiteflies. New, super-abundant whiteflies have emerged in Uganda, spreading south and west, and are now present as far south as Zambia and as far west as Cameroon. The diseases are also spread by stem cuttings taken from infected plants. The international movement of these cuttings is increasing rapidly—within and beyond Africa—the diseases could spread to the rest of Africa and, possibly, the rest of the cassava-producing world. If CBSD reaches Nigeria—the world’s biggest producer and consumer of cassava—it could cause a human catastrophe of unforeseen magnitude.
Proper management of the crisis would allow cassava to develop its full potential for improving food security in Africa, not only as a subsistence crop, but also for generating income. “If Africa takes advantage of cassava and supports favorable policy frameworks and tax policies for the processing and marketing cassava and other crops, then we will more effectively tackle many problems in food security for the continent ,” Dr Parkes explained...Read more on

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