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After years of massive crop losses caused by a devastating virus, farmers are harvesting healthy cassava - one of Africa's principal foodstuffs - throughout the Great Lakes region, FAO announced today, hailing the achievement as a milestone in its ever stronger partnership with the European Union.
By the last planting season, virus-free cassava planting material had been distributed to some 330 000 smallholders in countries struck by the virus - Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. The improved crop now benefits a total of some 1.65 million people.
"Having cassava back on the table is of major importance, especially to the region's most vulnerable, who have been hit hard by this year's global food crisis," said Eric Kueneman Chief of FAO's Crop and Grassland Service. He added that boosting the production of local crops like cassava is a pillar of FAO's response to the current crisis, which threw an additional 75 million people into poverty in 2007 alone.