This is one of a series of articles about the 20 research projects for which CONNECTED provided pump-prime funding. A full set of articles about all 20 projects can be found here.

Cucurbit viruses and their control in the small-scale farming communities of Zimbabwe

A project aimed at identifying and characterising plant viruses that damage Zimbabwe’s cucurbit production

Cucurbits (butternut, cucumber, gourds, melon, pumpkin and watermelon) are important food and cash crops in Zimbabwe. They play a key part in reducing widespread “hidden hunger”, providing the most affordable and accessible source of many micronutrients.

Zimbabwe’s cucurbit production is seriously threatened by diseases, with a notable increase in crops displaying virus-like disease symptoms. These are commonly accompanied by heavy infestations of aphids, thrips and whiteflies – insects that may spread the viruses from plant to plant.

This project aims to identify and characterise these plant viruses. It assesses the viruses’ geographical distribution and severity. It will also include training for farmers and extension service providers to identify the diseases, with recommendations for improved productivity.

Laying the foundation for future studies to understand the epidemiology of the viruses, the project will also develop protocols and genomic resources that can be used in this and future projects.


  • Zimbabwe
  • UK

International research collaboration

  • Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe
  • Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe
  • University of Aberdeen, UK


  • Charles Karavina (PI)
  • Charlotte Nellist
  • Eric Boa
  • Tsitsi Nyamupingidza
  • Andrew Armitage

Network members can find further details about those involved in the project by logging in to this site as a member, and using the Member Directory.

To become a network member free of charge, use this link.