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ISPP Congress Challenge

Development of Appropriate Strategies to Control Cassava Diseases in Ghana

ISPP is glad to present this third Report, for 2006-7, of its Congress Challenge project on the management of cassava diseases in Ghana.

Some striking quotations from the Report are highlighted here:

  • Interactions with farmers identified the availability of healthy planting materials as farmers’ number one priority. Unfortunately for these farmers, they can hardly obtain healthy planting materials to start their farms.
  • To address the healthy planting materials issue, three newly released improved varieties were established at two locations. Farmer field school members participated in the establishment. Excess stem cuttings of the three varieties were distributed to the field school members for planting in their own farms. Diffusion of the three varieties into the communities was therefore immediate.
  • Research interventions including the introduction of new cassava varieties and awareness creation activities coupled with farmer and extension officer training programmes in disease control and the use of improved cultural practices have reduced incidence of the disease from 85% in 2001 to 38% in 2006.
  • Farmers were made aware of the dangers associated with depending on only one crop (cassava) as the main cash and food security crop. Farmers expressed interest in the cultivation of sweetpotato as second crop to cassava to improve their earnings and food security. Vines were distributed to field school members for planting in their own farms to facilitate spread and adoption.
  • The Congress Challenge Project started identified the need for a book on identification of cassava diseases and their control to help farmers and extension agents reduce yield losses. The outcome is a 32 page disease identification and control book. The book describes all the major diseases of cassava.

And, quoted from the First Report, for 2004-5:

  • Famine rarely occurs in areas where cassava is grown widely because it provides a stable base to the food production system.
  • Unfortunately however, majority of farmers in Ghana have very little or no knowledge of plant diseases and therefore, do practically little or nothing to control diseases. Majority of cassava farmers do consider some disease symptoms of the crop as normal features of the plant.

Associated with this Report is the booklet Guide to Identification and Control of Cassava Diseases.

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Principal Scientist and Author: E. Moses (Ph.D., Plant Pathology)

Address:

CSIR – Crops Research Institute
P. O. Box 3785
Kumasi, Ghana
E-mail: e.moses@cropsresearch.org 

Implementing Institution: CSIR – Crops Research Institute, Ghana

Duration of Project: 3 years.

Sponsor of Project: International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP), through the competitive Congress Challenge scheme of the Task Force on Global Food Security. http://www.isppweb.org/foodsecurity_congresschallenge.asp

YEAR THREE REPORT: 2006-7

See also

Year One Report: 2004-5
Year Two Report: 2005-6

Background:

The main objective of this project is to develop appropriate strategies of disease control to reduce yield losses in production systems particularly in Polyporus root rot endemic areas of Sabadu and Aveme in the Kpandu District of the Volta region. Cassava is a major staple in the two Polyporus endemic communities mentioned above and is the most dependable food security crop in Ghana.

Losses due to the root rot disease were in the late 1990s very high in the two communities. Research interventions including the introduction of new cassava varieties into the communities and awareness creation activities coupled with farmer and extension officer training programmes in disease control and the use of improved cultural practices have reduced incidence of the disease from 85% in 2001 to 38% in 2006.

This is the final report on project activities some of which were initiated in project year one and two but finally completed in project year 3.

Activity 1

Establishment of Community Planting Materials Multiplication Fields

Interactions with farmers at the field school level and workshops identified the availability of healthy planting materials as farmers’ number one priority in the study communities of Sabadu and Aveme. Farmers involved in the participatory research activities and field schools submitted that they have acquired skills in disease identification and control and know that they have to use healthy planting materials to establish their fields. Unfortunately for these farmers, they can hardly obtain healthy planting materials to start their farms.

To address the healthy planting materials issue, three newly released improved varieties of cassava CRI-Doku Duade, CRI-Esam Bankye and CRI-Bankye Hemaa from CSIR-Crops Research Institute’s Breeding Programme were collected from CRI Ejura Station trial fields and established at two locations within the Sabadu and Aveme cassava producing areas. Farmer field school members participated in the establishment of the planting materials multiplication fields (Figure 1). Excess stem cuttings of the three varieties were distributed to the field school members for planting in their own farms. Diffusion of the three varieties into the communities was therefore immediate.

The three varieties were selected for the two localities because they showed resistance to the Polyporus root rot fungus in two seasons testing in root rot hotspot fields. In addition, the three varieties were released particularly for their high root yields and resistance to ACMD (a major disease of cassava that is prevalent in the Sabadu and Aveme areas). All three varieties when processed give high quality gari grains (gari is an important food from cassava for the people in the two communities).

Figure 1. A discussion section with members of the Aveme Farmer Field School before planting of the Cassava Planting Material Multiplication Field.

Introduction of sweetpotato into Polyporus endemic areas:

Though sweetpotato is an economic crop in some parts of the Volta region, it was hardly observed in the Sabadu and Aveme farming communities. Farmers were made aware of the dangers associated with depending on only one crop (cassava) as the main cash and food security crop. Farmers from the two communities expressed interest in the cultivation of sweetpotato as second crop to cassava to improve their earnings and food security (as three crops of sweetpotato can be harvested in one year depending on the variety).

Five improved varieties of sweetpotao from CSIR-Crops Research Institute’s Breeding Programme were collected from nursery fields at the Fumesua Station and established as demonstration fields at Sabadu and Aveme with the participation of Farmer Field School members. The five varieties are, Faraa, Sauti, CRI-Otoo, CRI Apomuden and CRI-Ogyefo. Figures 2 and 3 show farmer field school members being trained in sweetpotato planting methods at Sabadu and Aveme respectively. Figures 4 and 5 show farmer field school members from the two communities after a day’s section.

Vines of the five varieties that remained after planting the demonstrations were distributed to field school members for planting in their own farms to facilitate spread and adoption. Members of the communities who were not members of the farmer field schools requested for vines. Farmer field school members were encouraged to share vines with community members after their harvests.

Farmer Field Schools:

Farmer field school sections were organized for the two communities. Farmers were trained in disease control methods and good agronomic practices in cassava and sweetpotato production. Selection of good sweetpotato vines for planting, planting distances and methods of constructing good ridges for planting sweetpotato were some of the technologies transferred to farmers at the field school sections.

Figure 2. Planting of sweetpotato in a demonstration field by Sabadu Farmer Field School members.

Figure 3. Field school members establishing a sweetpotato demonstration trial at Aveme.

Figure 4. Farmer Field School Members (Sabadu) after a section on cassava and sweetpotato Planting Methods. Note field school members holding sweetpotato vines meant for their own farms.

Figure 5. Farmer Field School Members (Aveme) after a section on cassava and sweetpotato planting methods.

Development of Guide to Identification and Control of Cassava Diseases

The Congress Challenge Project started in its first year researching for a book on identification of cassava diseases and their control to help farmers and extension agents reduce yield losses due to plant pathogens. The need for this book was identified as very necessary. The outcome of this activity is a 32 page disease identification and control book that was published in 2008. The book describes all the major diseases of cassava including African Cassava Mosaic Disease (ACMD) and Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB) and the major root rot diseases in Ghana including rots by Polyporus sulphureus. This book was edited by Dr. Peter Scott (Immediate Past President, ISPP). The launching of the book coincided with a National Workshop for the Training of Master Trainers for the Implementation of Farmer Field Fora activities for improved production of root and tuber crops in Kumasi, Ghana in March 2008. Thirty participants at the workshop each received a copy of the booklet. The National Programme Coordination Office of RTIMP received copies of the booklet (Figure 6). The booklet has since been distributed to libraries of Agriculture Faculties of Tertiary Institutions including University of Education of Winneba (Figure 7) and libraries of Senior High Schools including T.I. Ahmadiyya Senior High School, Kumasi (Figure 8).

The full copy of the booklet has been posted at the Website of the ISPP as one of the major outputs from the Congress Challenge Project. The booklet has been well accepted wherever it was distributed.

Figure 6. A presentation of copies of the ISPP Congress Challenge project booklet ‘Guide to Identification and Control of Cassava Diseases’ to Mr. A. A. Adjekum, in spectacles (National Coordinator of Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme, Ghana) at the launching of the book.

Figure 7. A presentation of copies of the ISPP Congress Challenge project booklet ‘Guide to Identification and Control of Cassava Diseases’ to Professor R.T Awuah, in spectacles (Principal of University of Education of Winneba, Mampong Campus) for the school’s library.

Figure 8. A presentation of copies of the ISPP Congress Challenge project booklet ‘Guide to Identification and Control of Cassava Diseases to Mr. Y.K. Agyare (Headmaster of T.I Ahmadiyya Senior High School, Kumasi) for the school’s library.

Development of DVD on Cassava Disease Identification and Control

The project completed filming and editing work and produced 200 copies of a DVD on cassava diseases and their identification. The DVD carries coloured pictures of symptoms of all the major diseases of cassava and descriptions of the diseases. Simple disease control practices that can reduce incidence and severity of each of the covered diseases are part of the production. A summary of symptoms and control of each disease in Twi (a popular Ghanaian language) is presented to assist illiterate farmers who produce the bulk of the cassava we eat. The DVD will serve as a good teaching aid in agriculture lessons in secondary and tertiary institutions. Agriculture extension agents can depend on this production to enhance their knowledge on cassava diseases. Illiterate farmers belonging to a field school were considered in the development of this DVD. Issues on copyright are being considered before distribution is effected.

REPORT WAS PREPARED BY E. MOSES, Ph.D PLANT PATHOLOGY

(LEADER , ISPP CONGRESS CHALLENGE PROJECT IN GHANA)

CSIR-CROPS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, KUMASI, GHANA