Wakiso — Farmers specialising in growing cassava, now have the benefit of planting clean varieties tolerant to the brown streak and mosaic virus, according to new research findings. (Source: lomindra Afredaru)

 

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Scientists majoring in cassava breeding have for the last three years been engaging various farmers in the country by sensitising and advising them against planting cassava varieties that have not been tested against the two viruses.

 

Loss of yields


According to Dr Titus Alicia, a senior cassava breeder at Nacrri, cassava farmers have of late been hit by the two viruses, causing loss of yields in their gardens and prompting a team of African scientists to come up with this project, supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

 

Regional research

The main aim of the project that has been running since 2009 was to equip the different laboratories in crop research institutes in the seven countries with tools that can be used to test the two viruses in order to come up with clean planting material.

 

Dr Alicai said his team in Namulonge collected samples of different cassava varieties and tested them to analyse which virus exists in which region.

 

In order to solve the problem of farmers continuing to plant materials that are not resistant to the two viruses, the researchers came up with conventionally bred cassava planting material which they have been giving to private breeders to multiply and in return give them out to farmers.

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