Cassava brown streak disease affecting rural production: FAO

NAIVASHA (Xinhua) — The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Sunday the cassava brown streak disease (CBD) has affected over 50 per cent of the crop production in the country.The UN agency said the cassava mosaic virus is also spreading fast with several African countries already affected.

According to Edwin Adenya, Consultant with FAO Agriculture and Field Schools, the brown streak disease had affected 50 percent of cassava produce in the country.

He said that the disease first broke out in Asia and its virus had spread to various regions of Africa, including East Africa, Central and the Horn of Africa.

“West African countries have managed to contain the disease which has ravished hundreds of acres in other parts of the continent,” Adenya said in Naivasha during the start of a study on the spin-off effects of the Farmer Field Schools in Kenya for the last ten years.
He was optimistic that the country would address this, noting that the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) had embarked on a research over the disease.

“It may take time to get certified cassava seeds as it takes KARLO between two and six years to research on the cassava seeds,” he said.

Adenya praised farmers from Western Kenya for practicing good farming under the Farmer Field Schools which had seen the area avoid the cassava disease. On their part, farmers from Matangwe Farmera Field School in Bondo identified lack of enough rain and market as the biggest challenges facing cassava farmers.

One of the farmers Austin Kasure said that the area heavily relied on cassava as it was the only crop that could persevere the harsh weather conditions.

“Cassava is our staple food, and under the farmers field school concept, we have managed to address the issue of food security in the area,” he said.Another farmer, Jackline Akinyi, called on the government to assist them access market, adding that they were selling the produce at throwaway prices.

Akinyi called for value addition training among farmers involved in cassava farming as one way of increasing their earning.

“This area has poor rainfall pattern which affects production, but through improved farming we have managed to address the issue of food security,” said the farmer.