CASSAVA VIRUS: 6000 Acres of Plantain Lost

Farmers Drying their Cassava. the Brown Streak Virus Threatens such Livelihoods
Farmers Drying their Cassava. the Brown Streak Virus Threatens such Livelihoods

The Cassava Brown Virus has broken out in Luweero destroying about 60 percent of the cassava plantations in the district. Sarah Namubiru, the Luweero District Agriculture Officer estimates that about 6000 of 10,500 acres of cassava plantations in the district have been attacked by the disease. Namubiru lists the most affected areas as Kalagala, Zirobwe, Bamunanika, Luweero Sub County.

According to Namubiru, residents of these areas embraced cassava cultivation for their domestic consumption and commercial purposes. Namubiru attributes the high spread of the disease to ignorance amongst of farmers. She says that they have resolved to set up mobile plant clinics managed by extension workers to advise farmers on how to contain the disease to avoid further damage.

She says that the district has also embarked on the free distribution of the disease resistant cassava Varieties of NASE 14 and 19. Namubiru says that the intervention by the district can only reduce the disease by 10 percent in years and asks the farmers to do more to combat it before hunger strikes the district. John Ssekabembe, a farmer in Kirangira village in Luweero Sub County says last season he destroyed two acres of his cassava plantations after learning that it was infected by the Cassava brown streak disease.

According to Ssekabambe he lost over 10 million shillings, which demoralized him. He has asked the district to put up more mobile clinics and scale up the sensitization campaigns if the disease is to be contained. Stephen Mutebi, a farmer from Bukomba village in Luweero Sub County says that he lost over six million shillings since his plantation was attacked by the Cassava brown streak virus adding that, he is now battling to maintain his family on empty pockets. Mutebi says that he has resolved to grow maize in fear of incurring the same loses.

The Cassava brown streak disease emerged in 2004 on a large scale in Mukono District and has spread to 38 different districts across the country. However, central region is worst hit. The Cassava Brown Streak Virus causes the Cassava tubers to rot. The roots of an infected plant have a dry corky rot that ranges from yellow to dark brown. The roots are bitter and when consumed can cause nausea and vomiting.

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