Cassava brown streak disease responsible for 55% loss of cassava production annually —CABI reports


An international, inter-governmental organization, CABI has partnered with government in a bid to help curb the spread of the devastating Cassava Brown Streak disease in the country.

CABI is working with the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), Dziwa Science and Technology Trust (DSaT) among other stakeholders as part of a campaign to raise awareness and act against the disease.

CABI Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Africa, Harrison Rware, indicated that the disease had threatened the development of Zambia’s cassava sub-sector.

Rware told Zambia Monitor that the exact origin of the disease was not certain, but being a landlocked country with eight neighbouring countries, there were speculations of it having originated from some of the neighbouring countries.

He said estimated losses due to the disease in Zambia were around 55 percent of total cassava production, equivalent to monetary losses of over US$500,000 annually.

Read More: Special Report: Food security threatened, as illegal cassava exports thrive in border areas

“The CBSD communication campaign spanned 18 months, and an evaluation conducted in August 2023 sought to assess both successful elements and areas that required improvement. The objective was to gather insights into what worked well for farmers and identify any shortcomings, informing necessary adjustments to effectively address emerging challenges,” Rware stated.

He emphasized that cassava was the second most important crop in the country as it was grown literally in all parts of the country and needs protection from the disease.

Rware further mentioned that the project’s implementation in collaboration with government institutions, had commenced in Nsama district of the Northern Province, with plans for expansion to other areas.

“To trigger local based clean cutting multiplication, farmers initially are receiving disease-free clean cassava cuttings at no cost to demonstrate the potential of clean planting materials in curtailing CBSD spread and prevent a decline in production levels,” he said.

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