Crop Biotech Update

New Maize Disease Threatens Food Security of Africa

September 3, 2010

Rough dwarf maize disease emerged in Africa this year, which could affect food security and livelihood of millions of people in the continent.

Maize affected with rough dwarf maize disease exhibited wrinkled leaves and stunted growth. Infected plants also fail to produce cobs. Maize plant breeders assume that the disease can wipe out 20-30 percent of the whole maize field. Scientists have not yet completed the analysis of the disease. According to Godfrey Asea, head plant breeder at Uganda's National Crops Resources Research Institute (NACRRI), the disease was first reported in Masindi district and Namulonge in western and central Uganda.

"The devastating nature of the dwarf maize disease is total loss of the crop yields once it attacks. The only line of defense we have so far is to sensitize farmers on how to control spread of the disease. We shall advise them to keep uprooting and burning the infected crop," Asea said.

For more information, visit http://www.scidev.net/en/news/maize-disease-threatens-to-devastate-east-africa.html.