Sh107.5bn lost due to cassava diseases
By Janeth Mesomapya
Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is reportedly losing $50 million (Sh107.5 billion) annually because of viral diseases attacking the cassava crop.
This was said during the 50th anniversary of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in the city by IITA principal scientist in Tanzania James Left.
He explained that almost half of all the crops produced in the country were affected by viruses and it was a challenge to the agricultural sector.
For his part, the IITA Eastern Africa director, Dr Victor Mayong, said the institute focused on inventing technologies that would reduce different crop threats and ensure development was attained through the agricultural sector.
“These technologies are vital in reducing a high disease incidence during farming and harvesting and increase productivity, something that will improve the lives of people at individual level,” he added.
Dr Mayong also said a discovery of new banana crop threat had been reported it could enter Tanzania if not contained soon.
He explained that the threat had been discovered recently in Mozambique and efforts were made by the IITA with the Mozambican government to contain it before it spread to neighboring countries, including Tanzania.
However, Dr Mayong said the youth of Tanzania would benefit from a new youth programme and agribusiness to be run by the IITA.
The programme will focus on less and uneducated young people and the poor to equip then with knowledge, skills, exposure and financial support to engage in agribusiness by employing themselves and others.
He explained that it would be a vital opportunity for the country to reduce youth unemployment in order to uplift their livelihoods and the economy.