|Participants at the meeting|
The project, implemented by IITA in collaboration with the government’s research wings, i.e., Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) and Seeds Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) has reached half of its lifespan. The strategizing was done during the project’s second annual review/planning meeting held in Chipata from 4 to 6 September 2013. The meeting attracted the participation of implementing partners (ZARI, SCCI, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), farmers and NGOs such as ADRA) and other stakeholders with interests in Zambia’s cassava sector.
The meeting was officially opened by Mr Kennedy Kanenga in his capacity as acting Provincial Agriculture Coordinator (PACO). Mr Kanenga reiterated the importance of Zambia’s crop diversification policy. He mentioned that cassava has been recognized by the Zambian government as a strategic crop for food security hence the need for continued research to mitigate any adverse effects which might hamper its production potential. In conclusion, Mr Kanenga informed participants that the meeting received the blessings of both the donor (USAID) and the government through his office.
Implementing partners shared reports on the activities carried out during the period under review and presented planned activities for the fiscal year 2013/2014.
For the two consecutive years, no folia cassava brown streak diseases symptoms have been observed. However the 2013 survey showed higher incidences of white fly population compared to the 2012 survey. The white fly is the major vector for CBSD virus and other viro-diseases. The diagnostic survey team was concerned over the recent reports of CBSD occurrences near Zambian’s northern border. This was compounded by the fact that earlier this year (2013), superabundant whiteflies with sooty mold symptoms were observed in Mambwe district of Eastern province during routine data collection in the participatory variety selection (PVS) cassava trials.
During the field visit, participants exchanged views with farmers that host the PVS on how to increase cassava acreage and suggested ways on how to minimize the effect of animals’ damage during dry season when other crops have been harvested and only cassava remains in the fields. The forum was used to come up with strategies to contain the worrisome situation of disease threats.