THREE new projects will be launched on Thursday to support the development of Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) resistant cassava varieties.
The Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) Communications Officer, Ms Tunu Yongolo said in a statement that cassava is a vital food security crop that is being devastated by the two diseases causing losses of more than 1bn US Dollars annually.
"All three projects will work with the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) to ensure that only disease free planting material is disseminated and to develop a financially viable and sustainable approach to certification of planting material," she said in the statement.
The launch of the three projects is a collaborative effort between The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Ms Yongolo said that the new cassava varieties will facilitate the sharing five of the best varieties from Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda for regional testing across the countries.
She said that this will provide breeders with a wide source of genetic material to work with for development of varieties with dual resistance to diseases that attack cassava.
The project will further pilot the production of virus tested cassava planting material for multiplication by either local communities or seed entrepreneurs for sale to farmers and the initiative was led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
The commercially sustainable quality assured cassava seed system will be implemented by MEDA and will be developing and testing supply chain models for the distribution of the newly created cassava varieties.
She said that this project will work on building the capacity of seed entrepreneurs to produce disease free cassava planting materials to be sold to farmers and to facilitate strong linkages between these entrepreneurs and the producers of breeder and foundation level planting material.