Biotech Updates

Cassava Brown Streak Disease Continues to Threaten Food Security in Africa

November 13, 2009

The Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) continues to spread in the Great Lakes Region of eastern and central Africa, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Nigeria-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The viral disease seriously threatens the food security in unstable regions of the continent, for instance in Rwanda and Tanzania. CBSD's associated symptom of root necrosis is a major cause of economic loss in the cassava crop.

But all is not bad news. According to the IITA study, incidences of the equally destructive Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) have decreased significantly in the region. James Legg, IITA Virologist based in Tanzania, attributed the reduction of CMD incidence in parts of the region to the promotion of improved cassava varieties by IITA and partners.

The study is part of the Disease Objective of the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) being coordinated by IITA. GLCI aims to increase knowledge on cassava diseases, and develop diagnostics and management capacity to enable production of healthy planting material.

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