Central Africa

IFAD cites IITA’s efforts to eradicate cassava mosaic disease

Dr Nzola Mahungu (first from left) explains IITA’s work on CMD to IFAD’s Racha Omar (second from right).

Dr Nzola Mahungu (first from left) explains IITA’s work on CMD to IFAD’s Racha Omar (second
from right).

Racha Omar, representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo, visited IITA-Kinshasa and different community sites in DRC supported by the Institute on 20 August to witness IITA’s work in the fight against the devastating cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and the inclusion of the value chain approach to agricultural development.

CMD–the widespread and most severe factor limiting production in sub-Saharan Africa–is caused by cassava mosaic geminiviruses which are transmitted by a whitefly vector, Bemisia tabaci (Genn). CMD-affected plants produce few or no sizable roots, depending on the severity of the disease and the age of the plant at the time of infection. Nine countries across East and Central Africa are affected by this pandemic.

Annual losses in storage root yield across sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be between 15% and 24%, equivalent to 12-23 million tons or US$1.2 to 2.3 billion.

Efforts being adopted by IITA to curb this trend include varietal improvement, multiplication, and distribution of disease-free cuttings. The Institute is providing a system of agriculture, rich in quantity and quality, to provide support to food security and also to sustainable development through the deployment of activities that generate revenue through cassava that can meet the basic needs of primary health care and children’s education.

“I see that the close collaboration IITA has with its beneficiaries, the techniques implemented in the fight against CMD, and the adoption of the value chain approach are indeed providing answers. We will reflect internally to see the possibility of developing a project with IITA adopting the same practices in the Republic of Congo.” Racha Omar said.

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