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The Cassava Mosaic Disease Pandemic in Tanzania
Since 1998 when the disease was spotted for the first time in Tanzania the disease has increased its speed of spread from the initial Uganda speed of 30km per year to around 40-73km per year according to annual monitoring OFDA/CMD survey reports. The speed of the disease is supposed to go hand in hand with the speed of multiplication and dissemination of CMD tolerant materials. But this has been not the case in the diffusion of the CMD tolerant planting material process. The disease has spread to many parts of the Lake (Mara, Mwanza, Shinyanga and Kagera regions) and Western (only Kigoma region) zones.

In the Lake zone of Tanzania cassava ranks second in production after the Southern (Mtwara and Lindi regions) zone which rank first. It is used by many households as staple food in the Lake and Western Zones. Cassava production has decreased tremendously due to CMD-UgV in the zones and therefore leaving many people to suffer from hunger. Some strategies have been in place since the disease was reported in Tanzania but the strategies need to be strengthened, scaled up and coordinated. The strategies that have been employed include: 

  • Multiplication and dissemination of CMD-UgV tolerant materials by different actors 
  • Sensitization and awareness creation on the CMD-UgV 
  • Monitoring the spread of the disease 
  • Introducing and screening of tolerant/resistant cassava materials 
  • All areas that are found to be infected with the disease are put under quarantine

Use of inappropriate approaches to multiply and disseminate CMD-UgV planting materials by many stakeholders have resulted into losses of cassava planting materials. Many approaches used are not sustainable. Some actors count impact through number of cassava cuttings distributed free to farmers and not the survived cuttings. A sustainable system is the one that makes the beneficiaries feel the ownership of the cassava planting materials by contributing labor or part of the produced planting materials so that can be sent to other farmers or buy or contribute part of the cost of the planting materials. In this way beneficiaries will feel the ownership and be serious in keeping the materials without loosing them. The use of primary, secondary and tertiary model is one way of bring the materials close to the beneficiaries but from one stage to another there must be an agent to move the materials. Therefore it is wise before establishing materials in any stage to consider an agent to move the materials to other stage. Experience has shown that group of farmers given free materials and contributing labor and cuttings cultivated in a block farm under a contract of two-three years ratooning, harvesting piece meal and retaining part of the planting materials to establish his/her own tertiary field while the other portion taken to other farmers or group of farmers has been found to work very well. The other approach is use individual farmers under the same approach as block farms. Each approach is applicable in one area but not in another area depending on the circumstances. For example block farms can be applied in areas where land is not a problem. Contact farmer approach is applicable in all circumstances where there is abundant land and lack of land. Seed voucher system is also, applicable where materials are abundant and intervention has been done for a long time just few farmers does not have the materials. Another way of materials getting lost is through the delay in preparing the cuttings and transporting them to the beneficiaries which normally lose viability. Therefore there is a need to reduce the period from preparing cuttings to planting. Since in many areas cassava is been harvested during the dry period farmers lack education on planting materials conservation methods and also, general cassava agronomy. This sometimes results in loosing cassava planting materials and therefore the need to disseminate cassava planting materials hand in hand with providing training. Also, since cassava has low multiplication ratio there is a need to use different parts of the stem in order to get more planting materials for rapid multiplication. If cassava is not planted in time it will be affected by drought and termites. Therefore it is important to plant in time to take advantage of enough moisture.

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