The West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) in charge of root and tuber crops diseases in the subregion has held its follow-up national stakeholder workshop on the prevention of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) in Abuja, Nigeria. The workshop was held on the heels of the growing threat of CBSD. Computer simulation suggests that the disease would likely make inroads into Nigeria as early as 2020.
Speaking at the event, ED/CEO of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Dr Ukpai Joseph Ukpai briefed attendees on the progress so far made in understanding Cassava viruses in Nigeria and the CBSD threat. He emphasised the significance of cassava to Nigeria’s food security stating that 90 per cent of the annual production of the food crop is consumed internally.
The body noted that viral diseases are particularly problematic because unlike bacterial or fungi diseases, they have no cure. Viruses remain in the planting materials for life and are transmitted from generation to generation.
A highlight of the event was a breakout session on improving and finalising the response plan which was created last year and reaching a consensus on the implementation of the programme. The document which was reviewed by representatives of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) presented a twofold solution. First, it aimed at ensuring that CBSD does not get into West Africa and, second, if it does get in, countries in the region are prepared to respond quickly to prevent its spread.
According to IITA’s Mr. Lava Kumar, one of the reviewers of the document, the plan was very comprehensive with emphasis on human capacity, technology and budget. The stakeholders reiterated the need for vigilance and diligence in following the recommendations made.
The meeting was attended by Director, HMA, FMARD (represented), Director FDA, FMARD; ED – NRCRI, DG – NASC, Representatives of Kebbi and Abia State Commissioners for Agriculture; Representatives of Federation of All Commodities Alliance Network (FACAN) and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).
WAVE’s mission is to enhance the productivity of root and tuber crops in West Africa through the management of the virus diseases especially of cassava. West Africa produces a large portion of the cassava produced globally and over 800 million people depend on cassava for food.
The WAVE programme funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development held the first workshop in November 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.
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