Accra, Nov. 30, GNA - Dr Stella Ama Ennin, the Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - Crop Research Institute, on Friday called for the tightening of Ghana’s borders to prevent diseased cassava sticks from being transported into the country.
She asked the Plant Protection and Regulative System (PPRS) to step-up quarantines at the borders.
“If PPRS worked strictly at the borders it would be difficult for farmers from neighbouring countries to bring in diseased cassava sticks as and when they wanted and this would save Ghana and other West Africa countries from the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD).”
CBSD destroyed tubers/roots making them unusable.
Dr Ennin said this when she addressed stakeholders in the Crop Science sector at a two-day consultative meeting held in Accra.
It was to discuss the West Africa Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) aimed at designing concrete action to mitigate viral disease threats on cassava in Ghana.
The Project is being sponsored by Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and UKAID.
Beneficiary countries are Ghana, Cote d’Ivore, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Togo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dr Ennin said CBSD, which had hit the central part of Africa, was one of the diseases that impeded cassava production, thus, there was the need to prevent it from entering the West Africa Sub-region.
She noted that though the disease could be spread by other means, humans also spread the CBSD and such cassava sticks needed to be quarantined and tested before being released to their owners if found healthy.
There was the need for double and collaborative efforts to impede its spread in West Africa, she said, and called for stakeholder consultation and sensitisation of the public to develop action plans to impede its spread.
Dr Ennin said though donors were ready to prevent the spread in the Sub-region, government and other stakeholder support were needed to forestall it.
Developing national response for controlling cassava viral diseases and, in particular, halting the progression of CBSD and its spread in West Africa, is in tune with government’s efforts at eradicating pest and diseases as well as improving food security.
Dr Ennin, enumerating the benefits of cassava, said it was an important source of carbohydrates for humans, subsistence and cash crop for both farmers and industries.
She said about 500 million Africans depended on cassava as their source of meal with tapioca, flour, fermented dough, starch, attieke and chips as some of its by-products.
She said aside the CBSD, cassava production was affected by the Cassava Mosaic Disease in the region, which impeded its mass production.
Nana Fobi Kropa, the Atwima Mpemanim Chief, urged the scientists to ensure that the diseases did not affect crops in large quantities.
Dr A. Corsey, a Nematologist, asked that farmers be educated on the benefits of improved cassava varieties to encourage them to be used as planting materials.
Participants at the meeting agreed that pest risk analysis should be done before roots and tubers were imported, and that farmers should be trained to identify the symptoms, while staff were trained to prevent the diseases and educate farmers.
A common platform should be created for extension officers for information sharing in case they identified symptoms of any cassava disease, they added.