By Christopher Bendana
CASSAVA will soon be Uganda’s staple food replacing matooke according to scientists attending the third Cassava Regional Center of Excellence Review and Science Conference in Kampala.
Dr Maxwell Otim, the deputy executive director, Uganda National Council for Science & Technology said cassava production will outstrip matooke production.
He said its ability to withstand climate change shocks makes it a top option compared to other crops like maize. It can tolerate drought conditions.
Matooke is Uganda’s staple food but the crop is however being ravaged by the banana bacteria wilt.
Banana wilt has ravaged banana plantations.
Dr Christopher Omongo, the coordinator, Cassava Regional Center of Excellence at the National Crops Research Institute, Namulonge said they have been able to increase the adoption levels of improved varieties of cuttings among farmers from 67 percent in 2010 to 77 percent now under the Eastern Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (EAAPP), a World Bank program aimed at improvement of commercial viability of crops in the region.
He added that this had led to increase in yields from 9.7 tons per hectare in the 2000s to the current 12.5 tons per hectare. The most sought after variety is NASE 14, a cassava variety whose root shelf is two years
EAAPP brings four countries together in research development to help increase cassava production in Uganda, dairy products in Kenya, rice in Tanzania and wheat in Ethiopia.
The countries share the research benefits.