Cassava Brown Streak Disease Could Hit Nigeria Sooner Than Expected

Cassava Brown Streak Dusease (CBSD) is a disease that causes loss of cassava root production and quality. CBSD can cause substantial losses of up to 100 per cent, and this can occur because the symptoms are not easily recognizable by untrained farmers. These symptoms may only appear when the cassava has stayed longer than nine months. In addition, the symptoms can also be confused with a familiar disease called Cassava mosaic disease (CMD).

 The disease can render susceptible varieties unusable if the roots are left in the ground for over nine months. Currently, the disease is ravaging areas like Uganda, Tanzania, and Western Kenya. Although the disease is currently not in Nigeria, stakeholders in the sector are calling for precautionary measures to prevent the disease amid concerns that the virus could hit Nigeria sooner than expected. Stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to set up a technical committee to fast-track the country’s preparedness to respond to the virus. According to reports, the disease is moving gradually towards West Africa and poses a huge threat to the subsector in the region.

Symptoms of the disease can be seen on the leaves, stems and roots. Some of the symptoms include: patches of yellow areas mixed with the normal green leaves (chlorosis), the yellow patches are more prominent on mature leaves; the leaves do not become distorted in shape as usually occurs with the Cassava mosaic disease, the disease appears as dark brown streaks or spots on stems, which are more prominent on upper, green portions of the stem. Others include, it may cause cracks and discoloration in the storage roots and it can also cause root constriction and malformation.

The West African Virus Epidemology (WAVE) has proposed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) sets up Emergency Operational Centres (EOC) to tackle the advancing virus. The EOC would be tasked with providing diagnostic capacities for institutions such as the National Agriculture Quarantine Services (NAQS) to fast-track the efforts in tackling the disease. In addition, to the need for funding for the NAQS and other research institutions, farmers need to be educated on the effects of the disease and how to recognize and differentiate the symptoms and dangers of the virus.

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