The National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI) under National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) has embarked on a campaign that will streamline access to clean cassava planting materials by farmers to prevent the spread of diseases such as Cassava Mosaic and brown streak
By Prossy Nandudu
The National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI) under National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) has embarked on a campaign that will streamline access to clean cassava planting materials by farmers to prevent the spread of diseases such as Cassava Mosaic and brown streak.
With cassava now a money spinner, the move is aimed at increasing production of quality planting materials or seed that farmers have been finding hard to access.
"Whenever a farmer wants to plant cassava, they get planting materials from neighbours or old fields which could be infected with viruses that affect the whole plantation since one cannot tell whether the seed is sick unless it is taken through the laboratory," this is according to Dr.Titus Alicai, the root crops director at the NaCCRI.
Through the commercializing clean cassava planting materials delivery systems programme, researchers are trying to address the gap of lack of reliable planting materials by making sure that before the seeds are released, they have gone through several checks including laboratory and filed trials, certified, and made ready for access," said Dr.Alicai.
The programme, in its first phase, is worth US$3.5m with support from the Ministry of agriculture, animal industries and fisheries, bio crops, plant laboratory, Chain Uganda and AFRII which are helping cassava farmers earn from the cassava value chain, National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCCRI) which is hosting the programme and Meda, a cassava stem promoter in Tanzania.
One of the measures being undertaken is testing small quantities of cassava seed in the lab to ensure that they are disease free is conservation and later multiplication through private tissue culture laboratories which are inspected by the ministry of agriculture's seed certification and Inspection department.
Alicia explains that after multiplying, the materials are then moved out in the shades where plants are hardened and later taken to isolated fields with low disease pressure for rapid multiplication to take place.
"This is when cassava seed traders who are registered with the ministry of agriculture and have had their fields visited by inspection department in MAAIF and been given movement permits to access the planting materials, take to their fields and multiply further for sale," he added.
Accessing certified planting materials
Farmers can then buy planting materials from the cassava seed traders who will be registered with the ministry of agriculture and their gardens inspected such that whatever is multiplied and sold is disease free and can perform to the expected yields.
ARO to produce quality Cassava Seed