HUYE – Delegates attending the third Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) meeting in Huye district, have reaffirmed their commitment to monitoring and diagnosing the present cassava mosaic disease and cassava brown streak which threaten food security in the region.
Sylvain Hakizimana, head of the GLCI project in Rwanda said that the cassava mosaic disease is prevalent in different parts of the country but measures have been put in place to curb its spread.
“The GLCI project through collaboration with local organizations like the Institute of Scientific Agricultural Research (ISAR) and the Rwanda Agriculture Development Authority provides farmers with new improved varieties through their cooperatives. These measures have kept the disease under check,” Hakizimana said.
According to Gervais Gashaka, head of the cassava program in ISAR, tests are being conducted to determine the extend of the disease which has already hit the neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.
“We are working closely with laboratories in the region and UK researchers from the Food and environmental research agency to investigate the extent of cases reported.
Tests conducted in the 2008 and 2009 have been negative but recent tests carried out in Tanzania on one cassava garden in Muhanga district indicate its presence. We are still investigating the extent of the disease in the country,” he said.
The GLCI, a regional four year project being implemented by the Catholic Relief Services brings together the countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The southern province has chosen the cultivation of cassava as part its crop intensification program where over 19,000 hectares of farmland have so far been cultivated.
Four cassava processing plants have been established to add value to the cassava under production.