Cassava virus breaks out in Zambia

A virus that was destroying hectares of cassava plantations has broken out in two provinces in Zambia, the agriculture ministry said Monday.

Cassava brown streak virus disease is characterized by patches of yellow mixed with the normal green color on the leaves of cassava plants.

Zambian Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo said official records have confirmed the existence of the virus in seven districts in Luapula and North-Western Provinces.

He told reporters at a press briefing that the disease outbreak was a threat to the country’s food security as cassava was the second most important food crop after maize.

The ministry will need about 5 million Zambian Kwacha (465,375 U.S. dollars) to effectively manage and contain the disease, Katambo said.

The ministry has restricted the movement of planting materials from the affected areas, he said, calling on farmers to plant disease-free cassava tubers.

Researchers from the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute say that the disease could have originated from neighboring countries.