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Scientists alarmed by rapid spread of Brown Streak Disease in cassava
Date:5/5/2013

nts can look healthy even as the roots, cassava's most prized asset, are being ravaged underground. The tell-tale signs of the disease are brown streaks in the root's flesh that, when healthy, provides a rich source of dietary carbohydrates and industrial starchy products.

There have been recent reports of new outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congothe world's third largest cassava producerand Angola, where production has boomed in recent years. The spread of the disease to West Africa and particularly Nigeria is a major cause for concern, experts say, because the country now produces 50 million tons of cassava each year and has made a big bet on cassava for its agricultural and industrial development in the near future.

Nigeria is the first African country to massively invest in the potential of cassava to meet the rapidly growing global demand for industrial starches, which are used in everything from food products to textiles, plywood and paper. Nigeria hopes to mimic the success of countries in Southeast Asia, where a cassava-driven starch industry now generates US$5 billion per year and employs millions of smallholder farmers and numerous small-scale processors.

CMDa Scourge for Cassava on the African Continent

Scientists at the conference will also consider options for dealing with another devastating virusthe Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD). CMD has plagued the whole African continent for over a century, each year removing a minimum of 50 million tons of cassava from the harvest.

The disease is caused by several viruses and the African continent witnessed several major CMD epidemics over the past decades, the most recent and devastating of which occurred in the 1990s in East and Central Africa. Great success was achieved in combating the CMD pandemic through developing and disseminating varieties that were resistant to CMD. In fac
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Contact: Michelle Geis
mgeis@burnesscommunications.com
301-280-5712
Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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