Cassava in the country is being attacked by the cassava mosaic and cassava brown streak diseases.
Although the diseases which are transmitted by the cassava whitefly do not pose direct threat to humans, they significantly reduce production of cassava.
Scientists across the world are therefore meeting in Blantyre during the Cassava Whitefly Project Annual General Meeting (AGM) to share notes on how to tackle the diseases.
Speaking during the launch of the meeting, Donald Kachigamba, who is the Cassava Whitefly Project Country Lead Scientist said the two diseases are negatively affecting cassava project in the country.
Kachigamba said it is important to contain the diseases because cassava is key to Malawi’s food security drive.
“Currently the disease is rampant in the lakeshore districts of Nkhotakota, Nkhatabay and Karonga. We are advising the farmers to plant disease-free cuttings and to uproot the infected cassava especially if it is infected in early stages,” he said.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda hailed Cassava Whitefly Project for trying to provide ways of protecting cassava from the diseases.
Chaponda said cassava is one of the strategic crops for the country, in the wake of global climate change, due to its drought resistance and low input requirement.
“They are doing a good job. As a country we are diversifying from maize which dropped by 40 percent last year. Cassava is an important crop for the country because it does not require a lot of water and we can get many products out of it,” he said.
The AGM follows another one which took place last year in Uganda.
The project is being implemented in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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