IITA scientists are a step closer to making a breakthrough in developing cassava that is resistant to both the cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and the cassava mosaic disease (CMD) in Eastern and Central Africa. The two diseases are the biggest threats to cassava production in the region putting at risk the food security and livelihoods of over 200 million people.
According to Edward Kanju, IITA cassava breeder, 14 types of the crop under research are very promising. Kanjuâ€™s team had just harvested an advanced trial of such cassava in Uganda.
This is the fourth year of trials for dual-resistance cassava for the mid-altitudes in Uganda. The trials are being conducted at Mukono, near Kampala, an area regarded as a hot spot for CBSD and CMD. The breeding work started with over 5,000 true seeds of parents with tolerance to CBSD from Tanzania for crossing with IITA varieties that are resistant to CMD.
Farmers have also been involved in the selection process to ensure that the varieties meet their preferences on cooking, taste, texture, and yield. Breeding for dual-resistance cassava is also being conducted in Tanzania and DR Congo.