It has been the hope of cassava farmers to get good yields from the Nase14 variety which was a virus-resistant in particular, Cassava Brown Streak Virus (CBSV) and Cassava Mosaic Virus (CMV) but this may not be the case.Several farmers in the central region are reporting incidences of viruses because this variety, which has been resistant, has become vulnerable, although it is still doing well in other parts of the country.
Next stepMs Jemimah Barisiyoy, a farmer in Wakiso district, has been growing Nase 14 and getting good returns from it but now CBSV has destroyed her three-hectare garden of cassava. "I have been harvesting cassava but about six months ago we discovered a few tubers were rotten but we didn't take it seriously," she said.
Later when scientists from Namulonge came to visit the farmers, as they were carrying out a routine check, they noticed signs of CBSV in her fields and advised her to stop selling cuttings to other farmers.
She opted to uproot all the cassava and plant the newly released variety called Nam 130, which scientists bred using conventional method with resistance to CBSV and CMV.
Accurate informationThe challenge is, farmers are still selling cassava cuttings that are infected with CBSV, which is leading to spread of the disease in a wider area.
Ms Barisiyoy says with the damage caused to her plantation, she wonders why the transgenic varieties that bred using biotechnology are not released. "Cassava has proved to be a stable food crop against hunger in the country, I will not abandon growing it and I will approach the scientists for varieties which are resistant to disease," she insists.
"Those opposed to GMOs are giving wrong information. We need accurate information about different varieties to know which one yields well because we are no longer farmers who grow crops only for food but commercial purposes."According to her, the traditional varieties of a number of crops now yield so poorly. And this coupled with the pest and disease burden means that farmers cannot grow them for commercial purposes.
Good resultsMr John Odipio, a cassava breeder at
He observes that the farmers who will venture in growing cassava varieties bred using biotechnology will get good results because laboratory tests and field trials have shown that they are resistant to both CMV and CBSV.
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