Cassava diseases in central, eastern and southern Africa (CaCESA): Strategic programme framework (2010-2015)

Click on the map to enlarge and see where FAO is working to combat casava diseases in central, eastern and southern Africa.

The CaCESA programme framework suggests how countries involved can design their national programme based on the nature of the cassava insect pest and disease situation they face, and the food security and vulnerability situation. It aims to support and enhance the livelihood of vulnerable farming households through better and timely cassava food security interventions in order to mitigate hunger.

This will be achieved through five main outputs that address the challenges facing cassava production identified in the review. (More on the programme review). In turn, each of the five outputs is achieved through activities that can be incorporated in programmes designed under this framework.

Output 1: Mechanism for quick multiplication and distribution of clean and tolerant varieties enhanced

Any plan to multiply varieties would engage only varieties that farmers can access (released varieties). Such varieties should be tolerant to the two major diseases (CMVD and CBSVD). Where CBSVD has not been reported or areas with low incidence (suggested less than 20 percent), stems may be multiplied and distributed in ways that preserve the wholeness of the stems or cuttings when they reach the grower. There is currently no perfect solution - the best among bad cases is all that can be offered, which should be better than what farmers on their own would do if the programme were not in place. Each country must make a choice of what is best for serving their vulnerable people (which implies the creation of effective national coordination – see below). However, if nothing is done, farmers will do something to survive, even if it risks worsening the situation.

Output 2: Awareness and publicity of the impact of cassava diseases, appropriate responses and possible coping strategies at all levels strengthened

Farmers, frontline extension agents and policy makers in the related ministries of government need to understand the impact of CMV and CBSV infection, and the strategies to be adopted to sustain cassava production. The means of communication will be different for each group of stakeholders in the cassava production system.

Output 3: National and regional coordination strengthened

Each country differs in their level of central arrangements for discussion of cassava challenges and how to tackle them. Some structures exist but may not function as regularly as expected due to funding problems. This lack of funding is itself the result of lack of priority assigned to the issue by government, hence the need for a major advocacy effort principally by FAO. Regional coordination will involve FAO, CRS, IITA, ASARECA, COMESA, CEMAC and any other international agency with significant stake in the cassava sector in the region. FAO may facilitate such coordination activities in the interim, but in the long-term, a neutral body recognised by each regional stakeholder might be more appropriate.

Output 4: Farmer knowledge and skills on cassava production including insect pest and disease management aspects strengthened

Most of the ongoing efforts have been concentrating on multiplication and distribution of disease tolerant varieties; relatively little attention has been given to the broader and basic aspects of integrated crop management. However, the impact of the diseases seems to be amplified by the poor husbandry practices. Farmers do not recognise that soil health, crop nutrient management and field sanitation are also factors in the plant’s ability to tolerate disease and improving these areas is also a valid coping strategy in the absence of tolerant or resistant varieties.

Output 5: Disease management improved

The management of disease in this framework relates to two key activities. First there is the need to reduce the spread of diseases, by reducing the movement of stem across different agroecological zones, between countries and within districts of the same country. The second aspect relates to the need for an operational early warning system to be established to gather disease data locally and ensure high quality local advice to all stakeholders particularly to farmers on the appearance, incidence, severity and coping strategies. The approach needs to take account of the work of other partners (GLCI, ASARECA, IITA).

Programme objective hierarchy - Cassava-based food security

Each of the five outputs is achieved through activities that can be incorporated in programmes designed under the CaCESA framework. These should be considered a menu of options or even a checklist to review ongoing projects and programmes. Click on the image to enlarge.