ZAMBIA – Smallholder farmers in Zambia’s Nsama District of Northern Province celebrate a bountiful harvest of cassava grown from clean cuttings, free from the destructive Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD).

Their achievement follows efforts to plant virus-free cassava cuttings, provided by CABI-trained cassava seed growers and supported by the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and other partners.

CABI worked with the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI), Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), and the Department of Agriculture (DoA) to support the farmers and promote healthier cassava crops.

Over 70% of the 500 participating farmers reported a strong crop stand and healthy crop performance.

CABI’s efforts included training lead farmers in cassava seed production and establishing a functional seed system for continued access to clean planting materials.

The success was confirmed when 14 out of 16 CABI-trained cassava seed growers met SCCI’s official certification requirements, allowing them to sell the virus-free cuttings as seed.

Itabwa Investments began purchasing cuttings from the certified seed growers and providing farmers with essential equipment and products to enhance cassava production.

The initiative is part of a campaign launched in August 2022 to curb the spread of CBSD, which has previously caused up to 55% of cassava production losses in Zambia. These losses translated to financial setbacks of over USD 500,000.

The plan to contain CBSD includes improved diagnostics, farm-level phytosanitation, and the creation of a sustainable seed system to ensure farmers receive clean planting materials.

Smallholder farmers, trained in proper cassava cultivation and management, now enjoy harvesting clean cuttings free from CBSD.

Dr. Chapwa Kasoma, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Invasive Species Management at CABI’s Lusaka center, highlighted the benefits of planting clean cassava cuttings.

She stated, “Evidence from the Nsama District farmers shows that planting clean cuttings is helping to reduce the impacts of CBSD and other viral diseases like Cassava Mosaic Disease.”

Dr. Kasoma also emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors in tackling pests and diseases.

Itabwa Investments plans to work with 2,000 smallholder farmers over the next three years, collaborating with CABI-trained farmers to maintain a steady seed supply to others in the region.

CFO Mr. Musonda Chansa of Itabwa Investments expressed enthusiasm about partnering with CABI to combat CBSD and support the commercial development of cassava farming.

Nsama’s Senior Agricultural Officer, Mr. Mapopa Tembo, expressed gratitude for the provision of clean cassava cuttings and highlighted the positive impact on farmers, noting that awareness of the disease is spreading, and the sharing of diseased cuttings is declining.

CABI’s PlantwisePlus program continues to support Zambian farmers in their fight against CBSD, aiming to build community resilience against pests through a formal and inclusive seed system.

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