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Outbreak of cassava brown streak disease reported in Gulu, Nwoya districts

GULU, January 30, 2024 – Cassava farmers in Gulu and Nwoya districts in Northern Uganda are concerned over a suspected outbreak of Cassava brown streak disease, which has left several acres destroyed.

Some of the sub-counties affected in Gulu district are Owalo and Palaro while farmers in Alero Sub-county have also reported the cassava disease.

James Komakech, a resident of Alero Sub-county fears that he could lose his five acres of cassava. Komakech explains that his cassava leaves turned yellowish with the tubers somewhat rotting.

Stephen Odokonyero, a farmer in Owalo Sub-county in Gulu district, whose 6-acre cassava garden has turned yellowish, says he has made contact with the district production department for possible recommendations for treatment.

According to Odokonyero, there are several farmers whose gardens are infested by the disease they are yet to confirm.

“We don’t know what exactly is causing our cassava to get rotten, leaves turning yellowish. I have made contact with the district production department to come and review, what exactly is causing this problem,” he said.

Julius Otim, the Agricultural Extension Officer for Layima Sub-county in Amuru district said tests are being undertaken to confirm whether the disease is indeed Cassava brown streak disease or not, since there are several diseases that manifest in a similar manner.

Cassava brown streak virus disease [CBSD] is a damaging disease of cassava plants, and is especially troublesome in East Africa.  It was first identified in 1936 in Tanzania, and has spread to other coastal areas of East Africa, from Kenya, Uganda and to Mozambique.

Recently, it was found that two distinct viruses are responsible for the disease: cassava brown streak virus [CBSV] and Ugandan cassava brown streak virus [UCBSV].

CBSD is characterised by severe chlorosis and necrosis on infected leaves, giving them a yellowish, mottled appearance. Leaf symptoms vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. The growing conditions like altitude, rainfall quantity, plant age, and the virus species account for these differences.

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