2 New Emerging Cassava Diseases

Monday October 16, 2017, West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE), the body in charge of addressing diseases of root/tuber crops issued a warning over two emerging cassava diseases in Nigeria.

According to reports, Justin Pita, Executive Director of WAVE, identified the two new diseases as begomovirus and brown streak virus at the second Annual General Meeting of stakeholders from the West African sub-region in Abuja.

He revealed that the diseases, originally from East Africa, were advancing toward Central Africa and West Africa, and that Nigeria was not immune to its effects.

Mr. Pita called for urgent measures to be taken by the federal government to mitigate an eventual outbreak in Nigeria stating that these viruses had negatively affected cassava production in sub-Saharan Africa.

 “The diseases are not yet in West Africa or Nigeria, in particular, but we have to create tangible awareness on its existence and its possible impact on the nation’s cassava production if eventually it happens,” he said.

“We don’t have it yet in Nigeria; that is a blessing but we have to prevent it from entering the country and that is the reason why we are working on this project.

“One of the key roles which WAVE plays is to address the fact that effective fight against viruses requires a strong understanding of how the disease in question spreads, which allows us to plan ahead for its control.

“WAVE also recognises that even if the viruses are existing in the region for decades, they can explode suddenly into large-scale threats if they are not well monitored and controlled.’’

Mr. Pita called the federal government’s awareness to the existence and risks of this disease and urged them to train more food scientists to deal with them.

He stated that WAVE was bringing together 10 research institutes and universities in seven countries in West and Central Africa to work on monitoring and predicting the emergence, evolution and spread of these viruses.