Cassava is one of the most resilient crops and thus lowers risks associated with more frequent drought and increased rainfall variability and other adverse climate changes. In eastern Uganda, cassava is the most important food security crop; it is also important for income generation. In recent years, though, production has been threatened by the whitefly-vectored viruses, cassava brown streak and cassava mosaic. The two diseases cause up to 100% loss in susceptible varieties, a situation which has severely affected food security in cassava dependent communities, such as those in the Teso region of Eastern Uganda. PKWI received a two-year grant in 2016. They observed that the spread of the viral diseases was due to a number of interacting factors, including: farmers’ limited knowledge about Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD; increased abundance of whiteflies; the fact that CBSD can have no visible symptoms crop growth; and limited access to improved clean planting materials. In addition, the long production cycle of cassava planting material, weak surveillance and disease inspection mechanisms and lack of coordination among various institutions mandated to provide agricultural research and extension services have further worsened the situation. Moreover, it was realized there were important social and cultural impediments too, such as farmers’ unwillingness to give up their infected local varieties and to rogue out diseased plants, for fear of losing what little food they had. As a result of this learning, PKWI will focus on developing a sustainable community based seed system, with a strong emphasis on a community phytosanitation (effort) where farmers take the lead to ensure the availability of viral free planting materials, with an emphasis on varieties that have already met the approval of the community.
This project increases cassava productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers in Teso Sub region through sustainable and inclusive access to improved farmer preferred virus-free cassava seed. The project aims to increase awareness on the benefits of clean cassava planting material, enhance sustainable access to quality and clean planting materials of farmer preferred cassava varieties, develop community-based mechanisms for inspection and monitoring of cassava diseases, establish certified community seed producers and strengthen actor interaction and linkages between community seed multipliers and actors in the cassava value chain.
Outputs and Outcomes:
Outputs: – Farming community that is aware of the devastating effects of cassava diseases and willing to take appropriate measures to manage the diseases. – Production of clean cassava planting material by community seed multipliers and seed that is easily accessible to the community leading to improved cassava production. – A community that is knowledgeable on cassava disease ecology and effectively participate in inspection and monitoring activities of these diseases. – Community by-laws that govern the management cassava diseases. – An established cassava platform that involves cassava value chain actors for improved knowledge exchange and co-creation. Outcomes: – Establishment of a community based cassava seed system that produces and distributes clean planting material and is self-monitoring. – Improvement in household livelihoods due to increased cassava production and commercialization of the cassava system – Reduction in cassava losses through the community effort to manage cassava viral diseases