Imagine a situation where you can no longer buy garri, fufu and starch, wouldn't the situation be bleak?

Worrying does not solve problems but for this, Nigerians need to worry.

West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE), the body in charge of addressing diseases of root/tuber crops, on Monday raised alarm over two emerging cassava diseases in Nigeria.

Dr Justin Pita, Executive Director of WAVE, at the second Annual General Meeting of stakeholders from the West African sub-region in Abuja, identified the two new diseases as begomovirus and brown streak viruses.

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He said that the diseases, which originated from East Africa, were moving toward Central Africa and West Africa, adding that Nigeria was not, therefore, immune to its effects.

He said that these viruses had negatively affected cassava production in sub-Saharan Africa, adding that it would be disastrous if the Federal Government failed to initiate urgent measures to forestall their outbreak in Nigeria.


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“The diseases are not yet in West Africa or Nigeria, in particular, but we have to create tangible awareness on its existence and its possible impact on the nation’s cassava production if eventually it happens.

“We don’t have it yet in Nigeria; that is a blessing but we have to prevent it from entering the country and that is the reason why we are working on this project.

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“One of the key roles which WAVE plays is to address the fact that effective fight against viruses requires a strong understanding of how the disease in question spreads, which allows us to plan ahead for its control.

“WAVE also recognises that even if the viruses are existing in the region for decades, they can explode suddenly into large-scale threats if they are not well monitored and controlled,’’ he said.

Pita, therefore, urged the Federal Government to be aware of existence of the diseases, while striving to train more food scientists to tackle them.


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