Maize lethal necrosis has spread to Rwanda

Maize lethal necrosis disease symptoms
Maize lethal necrosis disease symptoms. Credit: Rob Reeder © CABI

Report by Abigail Rumsey, Beatrice Uwumukiza and Bellancila Uzayisenga.

In the past two years, we have reported on the presence of the maize lethal necrosis (MLN) disease in East African countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The disease is also present in South Sudan. The most recent report has been of its spread to the Northern Province of Rwanda. Continue reading

Cassava virus resistance breakthrough for Africa

Cassava roots
Cassava is a staple food for millions but is susceptible to viruses that make it unpalatable © Seth Anderson (CC BY SA license)

One of the worst diseases of the tuber crop, cassava, in sub-Saharan Africa is Cassava brown streak disease (CBSD). Since its resurgence in East Africa in recent years, it is now spreading to Central and Western Africa. The other major disease of cassava in this region, Cassava mosaic disease (CMD), can also cause widespread damage to the crop, however there already CMD-resistant varieties of cassava available. Until now, very little natural resistance to CBSD has been found. Plant scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich have combined natural resistance to CMD with modifications of the cassava genome to develop a variety of cassava resistant to both CBSD and CMD that can be grown in Africa. As cassava is a staple food to millions of people, this new variety has the potential to halt the spread of the disease and prevent famine from crop losses. Continue reading

How to improve rice yield using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI)

This video shows how farmers in East and Southern Africa have been benefiting from increased rice yield after implementing SRI management practices. By following some simple principles in how to transplant the rice seedlings, maintain soil health, carefully irrigate, and manage weeds and nutrients, farmers can now produce a lot more rice than they used to using traditional methods. Continue reading

Tanzanian farmers keeping peckish elephants at bay

African elephants are wreaking havoc on farms in Tanzania © Gerard D. Hertel, West Chester University, Bugwood.org

It’s good news for the savanna ecosystem that the elephant population of East Africa has increased in recent years, but bad news for farmers whose crops are being devoured by these giant pests. Wildlife services’ successful anti-poaching campaigns and an increased designation of land to national parks has helped elephant population numbers to recover. However, with the concurrent expansion of farmland, there are now more frequent encounters between man and beast. Continue reading

Cassava – another superhero unmasked?

Cassava after infection from CBSD, Photo by IITA

For those of you keeping a watchful eye on the plant health news feed, you may have noticed a recurring theme around the topic of cassava crops in East Africa over the last few days. Cassava, a staple crop across sub-Saharan Africa, has been the subject of a well-established battle against Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), but the recent spread of a new viral disease, Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD), could cause both epidemic food shortages and a huge loss of income to farmers across the region.

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