The spread of the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) is now under control, Dr Daphrose Gahakwa, the deputy Director in charge of research at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), has announced.
The disease, that was first detected in 2009, in Shyogwe Cell, in Muhanga District, Southern Province, has affected cassava production in other parts of the country, especially the Eastern Province.
“There should be no cause for alarm as experts have undertaken appropriate measures to mitigate it,” Gahakwa said in an interview with The New Times, Wednesday.
“We have the capacity to check the presence or absence of the disease from seed multiplication fields using molecular tools at Musanze phytopathology laboratory. We have the capacity to clean the diseased variety and multiply disease-free planting materials through tissue culture”.
She, however, said that farmers’ awareness was key to addressing the problem.
Alvera Uwinyana, a cassava farmer in Rwamagana District, yesterday confirmed that experts often visit farmers in the area.
“Agronomists recently visited us and confirmed the existence of the disease. We were promised alternative disease resistant varieties and we have started receiving them,” she said.
A CBSD survey, conducted last month, showed that 92 percent of the 652 hectares surveyed, countrywide, were “healthy.” Only four of the 400 hectares of cassava in fields operated by the Rwanda Defence Forces, in Bugesera District, were to be uprooted.
Gahakwa said that it is only “the very old fields” – more than two years old – that are at high risk of catching the disease.
A broader national survey, the third since 2009, is scheduled for January.
“This cassava virus is present but it has not reached destructive levels and it will not be allowed to because we have strategies to contain it,” she said.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) says the disease is on the verge of becoming an epidemic and has called for increased funding, research, and other measures to help farmers and breeders.