….to do more on the research in preserving the cassava crop from the Cassava Brown Streak Disease
By Scope Reporter
Dziwa Science and Technology (DSaT) Founder and Director Ms. Veronica Mwaba has warned that the training that Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) in collaboration with Department of Agriculture, Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and Dziwa Science and Technology Trust ,(DSaT) including other key stakeholders if not taken seriously will negatively affect many.
Speaking after successfully hosting a training workshop for the farmers, journalists and other stakeholders, Ms. Mwaba disclosed that cassava is the second staple food and it is a cash crop which need to be preserved by all means.
Ms. Mwaba disclosed that researchers have warned that if the disease is not managed well, the industry will collapse.
“Many jobs will be lost especially those that rely on cassava, hence the need for us to make a follow up on the steps that are going to be taken to save the cassava crop in Zambia as it is cultivated on our soil,” she emphasized.
The DSaT boss disclosed that they have created the platform so that they can hear from the researchers if they are finding any challenges in preventing the disease and the measures to be undertaken to save the cassava crop from Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD).
Ms. Mwaba said that DSaT desire was to see all farmers being empowered with knowledge on the said cassava disease.
Meanwhile, Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) Researcher Dr. Chapwa Kasoma has called for more awareness for the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) that has affected farmers in the Northern Province.
Dr. Kasoma observed that their was information gap between the farmers and other stakeholders that are involved in the Cassava value chain.
She disclosed that as an organisation, they embarked on an awareness raising campaign which was sparked off by bringing stakeholders together who eventually helped in identify gaps in communication.
“They helped in designing a communication campaign which is going to be gender responsive and very inclusive, going to the affected areas in the Northern Province of the country,” she noted.
Dr. Kasoma revealed that the CBSD has not spread to the other parts of the country, hence the communication campaign that CABI has embarked on such us farmer gathering, plant health rallies, SMS radio shows campaign.
She stated that some of the information shared was the minimisation of the sharing of diseased cuttings, as their is a likelihood that they get diseased seeds as the said farmers like to share seeds among themselves.
And Itabwa Investment Chief Operations Officer (COO) Mr. Musonda Chansa disclosed that the Cassava intervention has come at the right time, as they have had challenges with their suppliers who failed to supply because their fields were affected with the CBSD diseases.
Mr. Chansa stated that the intervention will secure the supply chain in the value chain, as global investment has put in especially the ethanol industry and other industries for processing cassava into ethanol that might be blended into fuel.
He advocated for the curbing of the diseases that he said has a potential to cripple the industry that has been made so far which will lead to job losses and income generating opportunities to the farmers in the rural areas.
“The road map that CABI has come up with to try and secure the fields is to introduce disease free cuttings which will mitigate the impending loss of jobs and collapse of an industry,” stated.
Scope : 27 – 07 – 2022.