After much news about high food prices and food
insecurity, there's some good news about a main African staple. Cassava has made a major comeback.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says
after years of massive crop failures caused by a virus and other diseases,
farmers are now harvesting healthy plants – especially in Burundi, the DRC,
Rwanda and Uganda.
Rome, Nebambi Lutaladio, a specialist in the FAO's plant production and
protection division, spoke to VOA's Joe De Capua about the importance of the
is a root crop. It ranks as one of the important food crops in sub-Saharan
Africa and particularly in the…Great Lakes region, where it actually
contributes to about 40 to 50 percent calorie intake. It is the main component
of their daily menu of the middle class and the poor… This crop is grown for
food, cash and other uses by millions of farmers. Many of them are women," he
however, became the target is disease, which spread quickly. "Over the
past…decade, a severe cassava disease, which is called Cassava Mosaic Virus
Disease… And this disease has spread devastating the crop and had a very
serious impact on the production."
some areas, cassava production dropped by as much as 80 percent. Lutaladio says
that the loss of cassava crops affected "the resilience of the people."
says," Cassava is a survival or subsistence crop. They draw most of their
dietary energy from that crop. If the basic crop is not there, then they tend
not to be able to cope very well."
The FAO distributed virus-free
planting material in Great Lakes countries to some 330,000 small-scale farmers.
The result plentiful harvests, according to the FAO, have benefited over one
and a half million people.