West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE), the body in charge of addressing diseases of root/tuber crops, on Monday raised alarm over two emerging cassava diseases in Nigeria.
Dr Justin Pita, Executive Director of WAVE, at the second Annual General Meeting of stakeholders from the West African sub-region in Abuja, identified the two new diseases as begomovirus and brown streak viruses.
He said that the diseases, which originated from East Africa, were moving toward Central Africa and West Africa, adding that Nigeria was not, therefore, immune to its effects.
Also speaking, Prof. Joseph Ukpabi, Acting Executive Director, National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, said that the institute was statutorily mandated to conduct research into the genetic improvement, production, processing and storage of root crops in the country.
According to him, the marketing of root and tuber crops such as cassava, yam, sweet potato and cocoyam, among others, also constitute areas of priority for the institute.
Ukpabi noted that the WAVE project was aimed at increasing productivity and yield stability of root and tuber crops in Nigeria, adding that the institute would partner with the body to achieve these aims.
While declaring the forum open, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ugbeh, lauded the WAVE project team for its concern over Nigeria’s agricultural growth.
Ugbeh, who was represented by Mr Segun Ageni, Director of Root Crops in the ministry, commended WAVE for its numerous achievements within the two years of its operations in the West African sub-region.
He assured WAVE of the Federal Government’s commitment and collaboration in the nascent efforts to combat the newly discovered diseases and prevent them from coming into the country.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the forum was attended by stakeholders from some African countries and food scientists from Europe.