Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development

Resisting Viruses and Bugs

Cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa

Felix Nweke

Key period: 1971–1989

Geographic region: Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda

The intervention: Two major control programs were designed to combat serious threats to cassava production in Sub-Saharan Africa—the cassava mosaic disease and the cassava mealybug. These programs played a critical role in raising cassava yields beginning in the 1970s, turning cassava into a cash crop that is now spreading throughout Africa. In the early 1970s, the introduction of bio-control strategies to destroy mealybug infestations reduced yields losses by 2.5 tons per hectare. In the late 1970s, the introduction of improved, disease-resistant varieties controlled cassava mosaic disease while contributing to yield increases of 40 percent. These two programs played a particularly critical role in countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, and have contributed to improvements in food security for at least 29 million people.

Book Chapter:
Resisting Viruses and Bugs: Cassava in Sub-Saharan Africa
Felix Nweke
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Discussion Paper:
Controlling cassava mosaic virus and cassava mealybug in Sub-Saharan Africa
Nweke, Felix. 2009. IFPRI Discussion Paper 912.
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