Luv FM journalist Emmanuel Kwasi Debrah has been selected among other African journalists to attend a high level meeting on cassava viral disease.
He is the only Ghanaian journalist participating in the conference in Cotonou, Benin from June 7- June 9.
Conclusions of the convening will serve as a key success driver for sustainable food security in Africa.
“Indeed, there’s lack of knowledge about the existing viruses, their vectors and their alternative hosts so I hope at the end of the meeting, I’ll be equipped with the necessary knowledge to report effectively on how our scientists are helping to curb disease,” said Kwasi Debrah
Cassava plays an essential in the food security in Africa and the threats posed by cassava brown streak virus disease (CBSD) is currently devastating the crop in Eastern and central Africa and making its way to West Africa. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop a joint emergency plan.
The overall objective of this meeting is to inform African governments and African traditional rulers on the urgency of setting up a regional plan to respond to the impeding threat posed by cassava viral diseases on food security in Africa.
"Despite cassava’s strengths, the crop is subject to several constraints that affect its productivity. Apart from minor diseases such as fungal infections and bacterial infections, viral diseases remain the most damaging. Of all these diseases, African cassava mosaic and cassava brown streak play a very important yet unsuspected role by the cassava sector," said Dr Allen Oppong, country coordinator at West African Virus Epidemiology.
He contined: "Because of its geographical distribution, cassava mosaic disease (CMD), caused by eminiviruses, is cassava’s first production constraint. It can lead to 40-70% yield loss that can result in an annual economic loss of US $ 2 billion to US $ 3 billion for sub-Saharan Africa."
"In addition, the recent emergence of cassava brown streak disease in central Africa adds to the threat to cassava productivity causing yield losses of up to 90% or even 100%."
The meeting organized by the government of Benin in partnership with WAVE discussed joint actions to respond to the threat.
The meeting delved into the present state of viral diseases of cassava to the African governments and traditional rulers.
Sensitization of cassava stakeholders, institutional managers and traditional rulers on the socio-economic issues raised by cassava viral diseases and the involvement of governments of the WAVE member countries are in the process of setting up cassava disease management strategies in West and Central Africa.
The programme supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will include representatives from WAVE partners at the UK Department for International Development and national, regional and international cassava stakeholders.