Kampala, Uganda – The rapid increase of plant viruses in smallholder vegetation is causing concerns all over Africa. Smallholder farmers make up the vast majority of of the continent’s agriculture.
“Plant viruses are spreading rapidly to new places, frustrating efforts to boost the food security and livelihoods of millions of people. Poor smallholder farmers, who are the majority of food growers and the bulk of the population, are bearing the brunt of these virus diseases with their limited resources,” said Nteranya Sanginga, director general of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.
Cassava, maize and sweet potatoes are only three of many vegetation types being affected. According to an article published in allafrica.com, Chris Omongo, an Ugandan cassava breeder from the National Agricultural Crop Resources Research Institute has said that farmers unwittingly spread the viruses by moving infected materials from one place to another.
However this is an issue that can be avoided claims Omongo. “Once farmers know how to identify the diseases, then they will avoid it. They are also too poor to afford the improved varieties of plants resistant to disease. The point is to create awareness and we shall prevent the spread,” he later added.