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Disease-Resistant Cassava Cloned at Namulonge

SCIENTISTS at the National Crop Resources Research Institute in Namulonge, Wakiso district have developed cassava clones resistant to cassava brown streak disease.

The clones were developed from 20,000 cassava seeds, which were imported from Tanzania early this year. "So far out of the 116 clones, 15 may be tolerant to the disease," said Dr. Titus Alicai, a cassava scientist at Namulonge.

"Farmers should not start demanding these clones, they need to give us time to study them before we start multiplying them," he said.

The disease initially reported in two districts in 2004 has spread to over 25 districts, including Arua, Gulu, Apac, Mubende, Hoima, Kasese, Kumi, Busia, Pallisa, Mukono, Wakiso and Luweero.

Dr Alicai warned farmers and some NGOs against transporting planting materials from the affected districts. He, however, regretted that transportation of planting materials of vegetatively propagated crops like cassava, bananas and sweet potato vines could not be easy to regulate as in the case of livestock.

"In the crop sector, nothing is done that is why the disease initially reported in two districts has rapidly spread in over 25 districts," he lamented.

The workshop which was organised by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) was aimed at enhancing cassava production.

The FAO country representative Percy Misika called for team work to save a food crop that ranks second to bananas in terms of production.

Why cassava?

  • It is drought-resistant.
  • It can do well in acidic and poor soils
  • Farmers can esaily harvest it whenever there is a need.
  • It is vegetatively propagated thus making it easy to maintain and multiply it. It requires low levels of production inputs.

USES OF CASSAVA
  • Cassava tubers can be eaten as food.
  • Tubers can be milled into flour.
  • Cassava leaves are eaten as vegetables, especially in times of food scarcity.
  • Manufacture of starch for use in brewing, textiles, paper industries and making of livestock feeds.

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