Witches’ broom – a curse on cassava

3 February, 2014 by (comments)

The online magazine New Agriculturist recently published the article: Witches’ broom – a curse on cassava, outlining CIAT’s renewed efforts to contain and clamp-down on emerging pests and diseases threatening cassava production with partners in Southeast Asia.

A key threat, cassava witches’ broom disease, threatens up to 40 million smallholder farmers in the region who depend on the crop for their livelihood. Named after the broom-like leaf proliferation it causes at the top of cassava plants, the disease has already swept through Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao, China and the Philippines, resulting in dramatic reductions in cassava root starch content and in parts of Vietnam, massive 80% yield losses.

Cassava is of growing importance in the region as a food security crop. It is either consumed directly (i.e. Indonesia and Cambodia), or cultivated as a source of income for the poor, thereby improving their capacity to buy food. It is also increasingly valued as an industrial and export crop, which can be processed into a wide range of higher-value food or industrial products from noodles to textiles, pharmaceuticals, cardboard and glue. In Vietnam alone, 3.1 million tons of cassava fetched US$1.1 billion in exports last year, with the bulk supplied by smallholder farmers.

Read the article in the New Agriculturist magazine.

 Crossposted from CIAT-Agrobiodiversity Blog.


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