Almost 70 percent of the world cassava production are concentrated in five countries’ namely Nigeria, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia and The Congo Democratic Republic. There has been an increase in production but this increase has relied mostly on area expansion with very little from yield increases. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava with a production of 47,406,770 tons in 2013, followed by Thailand with 30,277542 tons and Indonesia and Brazil with a production of 23,936,920 and 21,484,218 respectively. Uganda’s cassava production stands at 4 million tons while Kenya’s cassava is about 800,000 (below one million) yet the country has the capability to produce more in the arid and semi-arid lands. Cassava is a drought tolerant crop and fits very well with the current climate challenges and especially in the drylands of Kenya. Cassava is a climate smart crop and should be promoted in these ecosystems for improved food productivity and eventually to solve some of the permanent food insecurity challenges in these areas.
However, it is important to note that, cassava production is also constrained by insect pests and diseases, poor agronomic practices in addition to poor soils. This cassava programme will go a long way in partly addressing the food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation challenges in these areas. The goal of the project is to increase cassava productivity and reduce the effect of major cassava diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. The main cassava viral diseases cassava mosaic disease (CMD) caused by cassava mosaic virus and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) caused by cassava brown streak virus. Cassava Bacterial disease is associated with Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. cassavae and pv. manihotis. All these diseases are seed (tissue) borne and are easily spread through cuttings as cassava is vegetatively propagated. In addition, Cassava mosaic virus (CMV) with its variants and cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) are also transmitted by the whitefly vector in different ways. Use of disease free tissue culture cassava planting materials will go along way in minimizing the negative impacts on cassava and in turn increase its productivity at farm level. A sustainable functional micro-propagation facility and business incubation centre in SEMIs will ensure continuous supply of cassava plant materials to the established greenhouses in the villages which in turn will supply farmers with healthy certified cassava planting materials. This approach of integrating phytosanitary measures using disease free tissue culture(TC) propagated cassava planting materials coupled with improved agronomic management will result in increased cassava productivity at farm level.
In the recent past, the Cassava crop project got a boost through RUFORUM under Community Action Research Programme Plus 11 (CARP+11). The Total project budget for Three and half years: US$ 350,000. commencing in April 2018
The project target group include: Students: 1 PhD, 8 MScs, 4 interns, Four ToT from TVET, 46 TVET students, Seed actors: 20 (10 youth and 10 women), 1000 youth and women farmers.
Highly qualified HR;
Supporting infrastructure for training (Long and short term);
Healthy Certified Planting Materials
Short skills courses on TC production, management of cassava, business and marketing; skills, processing cassava into various products; skills to translate theory(Science) into businesses;
Skills for setting up cassava innovation and business hubs;
Capacity to train graduates and transform them into Agri-Entrepreneurs;
Enabling environment which allows creativity and innovation to thrive
The Project will be hosted Under Seed Enterprise Management Institute in the department of Plant Science and Crop protection, college of Agriculture and Veternary Sciences, University of Nairobi. The programe is led by Prof. Agnes W. Mwang’ombe, EBS, SEMIs, Department of Crop Protection, University of Nairobiand supported by Dr. Dora Kilalo, SEMIs, Department of Crop Protection, University of Nairobi. Other program Partners/Associates include:
Peter Wasswa, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS)
Private sector-AMIRAN KENYA LTD, KIARA AGRO LTD,
Ministry of Agriculture (Extension agents at ward level)
Farmer groups in Kilifi and Taita/Taveta Counties and Uganda