Ghana urged to prepare responses to new cassava pests infestation

Mr. Eric Bentsil Quaye, Director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD), says Ghana needs to prepare responses to a new potential pest invasion of cassava.

According to experts, the cassava brown streak virus disease is currently prevalent in East and Central Africa and is spreading westward.

Any disease threat to cassava or any other crop poses a grave threat to food security and economic livelihood.

Mr. Quaye was speaking during a day’s meeting of stakeholders in Koforidua to discuss the simulation of the management of a new plant disease outbreak, that is, cassava brown streak virus, in Ghana.

Through the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the PPRSD of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Central and West Africa Virus Epidemology (WAVE) project mapped out a rapid reporting mechanism for preventing the spread of new plant diseases.

The simulation exercise drew to the Eastern region participants from the Agriculture Department, various universities, chiefs and research scientists from across the country.

Dr. Allen Oppong, the Country Director of the WAVE project, indicated that the project was initiated in 2015 with the objectives of enhancing root and tuber production through the management of viral disease threats, ensuring food security, and improving farmers’ living conditions.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, CORAF, and the European Union provided funding for the WAVE initiative.

Dr. Oppong emphasised the significance of cassava as an industrial raw material, a source of high-quality starch for the brewing and pharmaceutical industries, and a staple food for the vast majority of the Central and West African population.

As a result, he noted that the emerging threat of the disease could impede cassava productivity in East and Central Africa, which would become a major concern for food security in the remaining subregions.

Therefore, the meeting deliberated the framework for establishing a road map for enhancing the country’s capacity to prevent, forecast, detect, and respond quickly to plant viral diseases.

“It is expected that this will lead to a second meeting to review the actual simulation exercise to be carried out after this exercise to update the national plant disease incidence response plan document developed in 2019 and first, reviewed in 2021,” he said.

Professor Moses B. Mochiach, Director of the CSIR-CRI, stated that disease monitoring and surveillance were a shared responsibility, despite the fact that a national mandate was given to a specialised authority to lead this effort.

“At this point, I am referring to PPRSD. However, those of us in research, academia, and non-governmental organisations all have a role to play if we are not to be taken unawares by events,” he added.

Source: GNA

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