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Agrobiodiversity / / Advancing the fight against cassava diseases in Africa

Advancing the fight against cassava diseases in Africa

How to create a “game-changing” vision for cassava disease control in Africa and other regions of the developing world, making the starchy root a climate-stable super crop, capable of feeding millions more people by 2050. This is the challenge that brought together about 40 cassava scientists from 13 African countries and from the most important organizations working on cassava with representatives of the Plant Protection Platform (3P) of CIRAD (French Agricultural Research for Development) for a workshop held in mid-June at St-Pierre on the island of Réunion, off the eastern coast of Africa.cassava workshop

The main objectives of the 4-day event were to establish a pan-African surveillance network for viral and bacterial diseases of cassava, present the work of the Plant Protection Platform on cassava disease control, and also examine 3P’s role as an international transit site for the international exchange of certified pathogen-free cassava materials. The meeting was organized under the leadership of the CIAT-hosted Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st century (GCP21) with CIRAD, IRD (French Institute of Research for Development), the Agropolis Foundation, and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas.

Cassava production in sub-Saharan Africa represents a vital source of food and income for smallholder farmers, particularly women, and accounts more than 55% of global output. But the crop is seriously threatened by bacterial and viral diseases in Africa, and efforts to tackle these require better coordination to be fully effective. To this end, GCP21 formed a global alliance of cassava experts at a meeting held last year in Bellagio, Italy, which resulted in the development of a strategic action plan, known as the “Bellagio road map”. The workshop in Réunion represents an important step toward putting this plan into action, with the first stages focusing on surveillance and control of cassava diseases in Africa.

Dr.Claude Fauquet, during the meeting at St-Pierre.

Dr.Claude Fauquet, during the meeting at St-Pierre.


CIAT was represented in the event by GCP21 director Claude Fauquet and virologist Wilmer Cuellar. Fauquet’s presentation summarized the outcomes of last year’s meeting and the objectives of the mid-June workshop. Cuellar’s presentation focused on a diagnostic strategy that aims to detect at early stages virus infections that are spread through cuttings and that may accumulate during successive cassava growing seasons. “As a first step we will exchange diagnostic protocols used in different countries with the aim to standardize the detection and characterization of viruses infecting cassava. A combination of new and classic virus diagnostic methods will contribute importantly to an efficient exchange of disease-free cassava germplasm between countries” said Cuellar.

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November 2017
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  • Reinhardt Howeler: Thanks, Keith. It was a pleasure writing this book as it brought back so many good memories of working with cassava, both in Latin America and in Asia. I was lucky that the Nippon Foundation suggested that I write this book and financed its publication. They also wanted a simplified version for farmers and extension workers that could be translated into various languages. The English version of this new book is now going to press in Hanoi, while the Khmer and Vietnamese translations are also ready for printing and the Thai and Chinese translations are still being worked on. In case you are interested in the English version, let me know. My email address is still And let me know where you are working now and what you are doing. Reinhardt
  • Peter de Vroome: Great invention! Could be very usefull in our research in fast detecting CFSD in our planting material. Is this kit already for sale? Peter de Vroome phytopathologist Centre for Agricultural Research in Suriname (C.E.L.O.S.)
  • German-funded research on climate-smart crop-livestock systemsSupport CIAT: […] Written by: Angela Fernando […]
  • Keith Fuglie: An impressive publication! Reinhardt Howeler has done an incredible job of summarizing lessons from nearly 30 years of work on cassava improvement in Asia. This very successful collaboration between CIAT and national research programs demonstrates what can be achieved through modest but persistent investment in agricultural research, even with a relatively neglected crop grown primarily by poor farm families in marginal environments.
  • Unraveling the genetic secrets of the insect ve...: […] Jeff Stuart, an insect molecular geneticist from Purdue University, USA, is bringing new ideas to unravel the genetic secrets of insect vectors of crop virus diseases (RT @CGIAR: News: Unraveling the genetic secrets of the insect vectors of crop virus...  […]
  • Kellan: i am also working on ppd on cassava. can you please help me find find a suitable protocol to analyse ppd.
  • ALI SALEM IBRAHIM: Hi we looking to start collaborations with ciat center if it,s possible.
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