New cassava varieties might benefit Tanzanian farmers

The Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute, Mikocheni Centre (TARI Mikocheni) continues to educate farmers on the importance of using modern technologies and disease and pest resistant cassava varieties. Principal Agricultural Research Officer and Entomologist with TARI, Zuberi Seguni, wants to emphasize the importance of using newly released improved cassava varieties that are highly tolerant and resistant to the economically important cassava diseases: Cassava Mosaic Disease and Cassava Brown Streak Disease and the whitefly vector insect. These have been ravaging the crop for many years.

The TARI scientist informed farmers that cassava mosaic disease (CMD) is present in all main cassava growing districts in Tanzania. The disease can cause between 20 and 95 per cent root yield loss. Higher yield losses occur when the planted cassava variety is highly susceptible and is infected during early stages of growth.

However, three improved cassava varieties - Mkumba, TARICASS 4 and Mkuranga 1 – have been planted in demonstration and trial plots one year ago. These were planted with the aim of educating the local growers on new technologies on crop resistance and sustainable use of safe insecticides aimed at alleviating whitefly-vectored cassava diseases and the whitefly vector insect.

"Our aim is to help the group farmers learn and produce improved cassava varieties and share the know-how with other farmers within their area. We expect to establish other demo plots to continue educating farmers on these improved cassava varieties, to increase production and transform our farmers through practicing modern farming methods. The newly improved cassava varieties are resistant or tolerant to infection by CMD and CBSD pathogens that are transmitted between plants by the whitefly,” Seguni told

"The established demonstration and trial plots were aimed at making comparisons between traditional or local varieties and the improved ones, so as to expose them to farmers in order to help them learn practically and make choices," the TARI Mikocheni scientist explained.

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