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African researchers urged to address root and tuber crops’ diseases

ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) -- African root and tuber crops researchers were on Monday challenged to develop a new scientific mechanism to control and subsequently eliminate root and tuber-based diseases to transform from subsistence farming to large commercial and industry led production.

Hussein Mansoor, Director for research and development in the Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, made the call when speaking here during the International Symposium for Tropical Root Crops-Africa branch.

“In Tanzania, like in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa yields from roots and tubers are extremely low. This is due to among other factors, limited use of improved varieties, and insufficient use of yield-enhancing farm inputs poor farming practices, inadequate knowledge and skill among producers,” he said.

“Our farmers have inadequate modern agriculture production skills and knowledge, access to affordable financial services and are marginal actors in most food value chains,” he said, adding: “The science you do every day should integrate components that would reduce or totally eliminate these bottlenecks.”

Root and tuber crops are currently threatened by many new pests and diseases, due to climate change. The production of roots and tuber planting materials has not been attractive to key private sector actors in the seed industry, resulting in the poor adoption of new varieties generated by our breeders.

Mansoor added that root and tuber are versatile staples that can enable Africa to meet its food and nutrition security as they produce more food per unit area of land than most crops.

“However they also suffer from high post-harvest losses they spoil very easily and storage is a challenge,” he said.

“The meeting brings together the world’s leading researchers on root and tuber crops to Tanzania who have a great potential to improve health across Africa,” said Professor Lateef Sanni President of the ISTRC-AB from the federal university of Agriculture Nigeria.

Victor Manyong, Director for Eastern Africa in the IITA said that addressing post-harvest losses and markets cannot be overemphasized in the efforts to boost production for root and tuber crops in Africa.




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