“Game changing technologies” needed to fight cassava diseases

Alarming outbreaks of two devastating cassava diseases in Africa have prompted an alliance of experts to make an unprecedented international commitment to tackle them.

Members of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) announced plans for the sweeping set of measures to impede the spread of the flesh-eating cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava mosaic disease (CMD) both within the continent and beyond.

According to an official statement released by the group following its conference in Bellagio, Italy, last month, measures include the development and deployment of “game changing technologies” to produce more disease-resistant plants, to better understand cassava viruses and the whiteflies that transmit them, and to improve systems for monitoring outbreaks and distributing virus-free plants. The statement, endorsed by GCP21 participants, also calls for critical gaps in research funding and information to be addressed in order to improve the resilience of cassava – a vital staple crop that feeds close to 300 million Africans, and relied on by hundreds of millions more in Asia and Latin America. Read more

By Neil Palmer