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‘Managing Vector-Borne Viruses of Cassava’: CONNECTED Online Seminar

An online presentation by Dr. James Legg (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Tanzania) to the third in the 2021 CONNECTED Online Seminar Series on 17 June 2021, is now available for Network members to watch on the CONNECTED Vimeo channel.

In his presentation, entitled ‘Managing Vector-Borne Viruses of Cassava’, co-authored with Everlyne Worsula, Dr. Legg set out the background to the spread of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) from the 1930s onwards, beginning in East and South East Africa, and moving westwards, and he noted its growing global significance given its more recent spread across parts of South East Asia.

Focusing on disease management, he explained some key steps researchers are taking to support farmers and smallholders, including:

  • Identification of CBSD
  • Tracking its spread
  • Preventing the spread, and
  • Controlling resulting damage.

He set out a number of recent and ongoing developments which are enabling the disease spread to be better monitored, and the whiteflies that spread it to be better controlled, including a new smartphone app ‘NuruAI’.

In an upbeat conclusion, Dr Legg focused on what he calls ‘winning combinations’ to help improve cassava crop yields. These are:

  • New technology which offers expanding potential for diagnosis and monitoring
  • Improving host plant resistance and whitefly IPM strategies
  • High quality seed systems, which are increasing farmer access to new disease-resistant varieties, and
  • Novel ICT tools which offer game-changing potential to put the power of cassava improvement into farmers’ hands.

CONNECTED network members can watch Dr. Legg’s presentation using this link. You will need to be logged in as a CONNECTED member on the device you are using.

Please note that Dr. Legg’s presentation forms the first part of the Online Seminar and that the final half hour of this video includes a good deal more conversation and networking between Dr. Legg and Seminar attendees, in which a number of further questions are answered. Dr. Legg had been talking about the plant disease diagnostic phone app Nuru that is being evaluated, and there was a discussion between him and Network members in Nigeria and Ghana about the integration of Nuru with Seed Tracker (a program for real-time tracking of seed production) and how West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) is using Nuru to detect cassava mosaic virus.

There was also discussion with Yves Kwibuka in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the discovery of a new cassava virus which was of relevance to the work previously presented by Dr. Andy Bailey.