90% SAH plantlet survival rate boosting cassava seed availability in Rwanda

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Rwanda’s cassava sector has faced significant challenges over the years, primarily due to the devastating effects of cassava viral diseases, mainly the Cassava Mosaïc Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). These two diseases have severely threatened food security and the livelihoods of many cassava farmers nationwide. In 2014/2015, the Kinazi cassava plant, a franchise business established to address market overproduction, nearly shut down due to a shortage of adequate roots for processing. In a desperate bid to alleviate the crisis, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) imported millions of clean stem cuttings from Uganda, providing temporary relief but not a sustainable solution.

In response to this crisis, IITA, in collaboration with the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) and other partners, launched efforts in 2017 to counter the negative impact of cassava viral diseases. The efforts include the IFAD-funded CBSD Control Project, the Dutch government-funded Cassava Agribusiness Seed Systems (CASS) Project, and the recent Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded ViRCA Deployment Project. All these initiatives focused on developing and deploying improved resistant varieties and establishing a sustainable clean seed delivery system. These measures have been crucial in halting disease spread and improving farm cassava productivity.

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