Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards management of cassava pests and diseases in forest transition and Guinea savannah agro-ecological zones of Ghana

Gates Open Research RESEARCH ARTICLE 

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

   Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards management of cassava pests and diseases in forest transition and Guinea savannah agro-ecological zones of Ghana [version 2; peer review: 2 approved] 

Benedicta Nsiah Frimpong 1, Allen Oppong 1, Ruth Prempeh1, Zipporah Appiah-Kubi1, Linda A. Abrokwah1, Moses B. Mochiah1, Joseph N. Lamptey1, Joseph Manu-Aduening1, Justin Pita2 

1CSIR – Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana 

2University of Félix Houphouët Boigny, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire 


First published: 08 Jul 2020, 4:101  


Latest published: 18 Feb 2021, 4:101  https://doi.org/10.12688/gatesopenres.13114.2 

Open Peer Review 

Reviewer Status

Invited Reviewers 


Background: Cassava is a major staple root crop in Ghana, which serves as a food security and an income generating crop for farming families. In spite of its importance, the crop is plagued with biotic factors such as pests and diseases, resulting in yield and income reductions. 

Methods: Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards cassava pest and disease management were investigated. A mixed research questionnaire was used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data from 94 cassava farm households across two major cassava growing agro-ecologies. 

1 2 

version 2 



18 Feb 2021

version 1 08 Jul 2020 report report 

Results: Using descriptive statistics, parametric and non-parametric analysis, our study revealed that farmers’ knowledge on cassava pests was high but low for diseases. Whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius), grasshoppers (Zonocerus variegatus), aphids (Aphis gossypii Glover), mealybugs (Phenacoccus manihoti), termites (Isoptera), and 

grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus) were perceived as the most common damaging pests. Farmers’ descriptions showed that disease pathogens attacked foliar tissues, stem and root tissues and caused leaf dropping and die back. Cassava mosaic disease and root rot were the most common diseases; however, disease descriptions suggested 

Andrew Sarkodie Appiah, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute (BNARI), Accra, Ghana 

Peace Musiimenta , Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

Losira Nasirumbi Sanya , Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

the incidence of viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. Some of the farmers observed mixed symptoms on their farms. The results also showed that only 25.5% cultivated improved varieties. Management actions applied included field sanitation practices and pesticide application. The effectiveness level of the control actions was rated moderately effective. 

Any reports and responses or comments on the article can be found at the end of the article. 

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Gates Open Research 

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

Conclusions: The analysis showed heterogeneity in personal and farm 

level characteristics of respondents across the two agro-ecologies, but 

agro-ecologies were independent of the management practices 

employed. There is a need to improve farmers’ access to improved 

disease-free planting materials through efficient dissemination 

pathways and increase farmers’ knowledge on cassava pests, diseases 

and integrated management through publfic awareness creation and 

capacity building by extension agents and research institutions. 

Continued government investment is needed to achieve sustainable 



Manihot esculenta, diseases, cassava, knowledge, perception, Ghana 

This article is included in the AgriKnowledge 


Corresponding author: Benedicta Nsiah Frimpong (benenash@yahoo.co.uk

Author roles: Nsiah Frimpong B: Conceptualization, Data Curation, Formal Analysis, Methodology, Writing – Original Draft Preparation; Oppong A: Conceptualization, Project Administration, Supervision, Writing – Review & Editing; Prempeh R: Conceptualization, Data Curation, Writing – Review & Editing; Appiah-Kubi Z: Data Curation, Project Administration, Writing – Review & Editing; Abrokwah LA: Investigation, Validation, Writing – Review & Editing; B. Mochiah M: Supervision, Validation, Writing – Review & Editing; N. Lamptey J: Supervision, Validation, Writing – Review & Editing; Manu-Aduening J: Investigation, Supervision, Validation, Writing – Review & Editing; Pita J: Conceptualization, Project Administration, Supervision 

Competing interests: No competing interests were disclosed. 

Grant information: This work was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [OPP1082413]. 

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. 

Copyright: © 2021 Nsiah Frimpong B et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 

How to cite this article: Nsiah Frimpong B, Oppong A, Prempeh R et al. Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards management of cassava pests and diseases in forest transition and Guinea savannah agro-ecological zones of Ghana [version 2; peer review: 2 approved] Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 https://doi.org/10.12688/gatesopenres.13114.2 

First published: 08 Jul 2020, 4:101 https://doi.org/10.12688/gatesopenres.13114.1


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          Amendments from Version 1 

We wish to state that no major modifications have been made  to the previous article. Some suggestions by the reviewers have  been implemented to bring clarify in some of the statements.  Some tables have been merged for simplicity and table headings  re-captioned. 

Any further responses from the reviewers can be found at the end of the article 


Global food production is expected to increase substantially by  2050 to meet the increasing demands of the burgeoning popula tion coupled with changing diets and the growing per capita  consumption that is a function of rising incomes in many countries  (Ray et al., 2013; Tilman et al., 2011). Agriculture continues to  be a pillar of the population, with around 54% of the population  (especially, those in rural areas) relying on it for their livelihoods.  Agriculture contributed 18.3% to Ghana’s Gross Domestic  Product (GDP) in 2017 (MoFA, 2017). Crop production, espe 

cially cassava, is an important economic activity in Ghana and the  world at large. It serves as food for 800 million people in the world  (Fondong & Rey, 2018). Ghana is the third leading cassava pro ducer in Africa and with a world share of 6.3%, it ranks sixth  in terms of value and volumes. Per capita consumption per year  in Africa is estimated at 80 kg and 152.9 kg for Ghana (MoFA,  2009; Shipman, 2017 cited in Boateng, 2015). Cassava con tributes 46% of the country’s agricultural GDP through trade  (Sen Nag, 2017). Cassava has a broad agro-ecological adapta tion and an in-ground storage capability and capacity that allows  for flexible harvesting to ensure all year-round food availability  (Sanginga & Mbabu, 2015; Torkpo et al., 2017). The commodity  once described as “food for the poor” (FAO, 2013) is consumed  in all regions of Ghana (Bayitse et al., 2017) and is now envis aged as a strategic crop that could transform the Ghanaian econ omy as it has great potential for industrialization due to its high  starch content and varied product utilization (Bayitse et al.,  2017). In 2017, domestic production stood at 19,137.94 metric  tons, which was a 7.5% increase over the previous year’s output.  This resulted from a 5.3% change in cropped area due to the gov ernment program; Planting for Food and Jobs (MoFA, 2017).  In spite of its potential, cassava’s productivity in African  smallholder’s farming systems is still below the optimal level  (Elegba et al., 2013), though several efforts have been made  by projects and programs in disseminating improved cultivars  and integrated pest and disease management practices (Rusike  et al., 2010; Zinga et al., 2013). 

The gap in yield has been attributed to several factors, includ ing plant diseases that result in food scarcity (Zadoks, 2008).  Cassava, with its long life cycle, is affected by numerous diseases  and pests such as African cassava mosaic virus, cassava bacte rial blight, anthracnose, root rot, green mite and whiteflies. The  most devastating within the West African belt has been the Cas sava mosaic virus (Elegba et al., 2013; Manu-Aduening et al., 2007 and Moses et al., 2015). Cassava diseases are reported to cause  

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

losses of fresh roots as well as planting material. Reduction in  root yields could differ considerably with the cassava cultivars’  vulnerability, changes in climate and the inoculum pressure  (Fondong & Rey, 2018; Kintché et al., 2017). Pest and dis 

ease spread have been on the increase due to cross-border trade,  movement of people from one country to another and the sharing  of planting materials amongst producers and countries resulting  from regional integration (Echodu et al., 2019). 

With the high losses linked to pests and diseases, adoption of  resistant cultivars and good management strategies in Ghana  have not been encouraging, ostensibly because farmers have no  or little access to cultivars and little knowledge of the pests and  diseases as well as associated management practices. This is  evidenced in studies that have investigated this issue in Ghana  (Acheampong et al., 2013; Cudjoe et al., 2005; Manu-Aduening et al., 2007; Torkpo et al., 2017). These few studies are often  skewed towards examining farmers’ knowledge and or perception  with little efforts to examine attitudes and practices; thereby not  wholly applying the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP)  model to better understand farmers’ behavior and actions.  Therefore, this paper is intended to fill this gap. The KAP assess 

ment reveals what people know about the issue being investi gated, how they feel and their present actions. The framework  assumes that a change in practices is the cumulative result of a  change in knowledge and attitudes (Schreinemachers et al.,  2017). Despite the vital role of farmers’ knowledge in control ling and mitigating pests and diseases, the application of the KAP  model is limited or non-existent in this discipline and our study  intends to enrich the body of existing literature in this area. Efforts  to improve the management of pests and diseases of cassava  are likely to be hindered if farmers’ knowledge on crop pests  and diseases and practices for handling them are not known and  considered appropriately. Thus, understanding farmers’ knowl edge, attitudes and practices related to crop pests and diseases and  their management is central to crop protection through identifying  farmers’ training needs and is necessary for the formulation  and development of effective integrated management strategies.  This study was specifically designed to: 

  • Examine farmers’ knowledge and experience of cassava  pests and diseases 
  • Identify farmers’ attitudes towards cassava pests and  diseases 
  • Identify farming practices adopted in coping with cassava  pests and diseases 
  • Examine the relationship between management practices  applied by farmers and agro-ecologies 
  • Find out the preferred cassava variety traits of farmers. 

The following two hypotheses were tested; 

  1. H0: There are no differences in the means of the quan titative variables (age, years in school, farming experi ence, percentage damage caused by pests and diseases,  cassava farm size) of respondents across the regions. 

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  1. H0: Pest and disease management practices and  agro-ecological zones are independent 


Ethical statement 

Formal ethical approval was not obtained as the CSIR-Crops  Research Institute has not yet put in place an ethical stand ing committee and according to local regulation is not required  for studies not involving the collection of medical samples. The  CSIR-Crops Research Institute administration approved the  project and all its activities before the project was implemented.  Though the Institute has not yet put in place an ethical stand ing committee, the project met all the institute’s expectations,  guidelines and ethics. The study was conducted in line with  Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Act, 1996  (Act 521) and the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843). Moreover,  respondents were informed about the purpose of the study  and use of their responses in a language they understood and  willingly gave their consent prior to data collection. Because  participants could not read and write, informed consent was  sought verbally, which was recorded via audio taping, as approved  by the CSIR-Crops Research Institute. The data being presented  do not include any personal data via which a specific respondent  could be identified or traced. 

Description of study areas 

The study was conducted in two cassava agro-ecologies of  Ghana, Guinea Savannah and Forest Transition, involving two  study districts. These two agro-ecologies were originally part  of regions selected for a nationwide disease surveillance in  2015/2016/2017 as part of the implementation of the West  Africa Virus Epidemiology Project funded by the Bill and  Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International  Development, UK. The chosen agro-ecologies are part of the  major cassava growing agro-ecologies in the country. The  Eastern region which is within the Forest Transition is ranked  1st and the Northern region which falls within the Guinea  Savannah ranks 5th. The former region recorded a production  level of 4,649,507.58 tons and the latter of 1,428,427.53 tons  in 2016 (MoFA, 2016). With a total area of 70,384 km2, the  Northern region is the largest region in terms of land mass.  The total population was estimated at 2,479,461 in 2010 with  50.4% females (1,249,574) and 49.6% males (1,229,887). More  than 75% of the economically active population depends on  agriculture for survival. The region has a relatively dry climate with a single rainy season beginning in May and ending in  October, with rainfall distribution varying between 750 mm and  1,050 mm. With the harsh climate experienced in this region,  cassava serves as a resilient and secure food commodity for the  populace (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013). 

The Eastern region covers a total land mass of 19,323 km2 with  an estimated population of 2,633,154 in 2010 based on the Popu lation and Housing Census (PHC). 51% are females (1,342,615)  and 49% males (1,290,539). The vegetation is tropical with two  seasons; dry and wet. The climate and soils support a variety of  cash and food crops including cocoa, kola, cassava, rice and oil  palm, which account for 70–85% of agricultural output. Cas sava dominates in terms of cropped area and total production  

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

(MoFA, 2011) and the region ranks 1st in cassava production  (MoFA, 2016). In this region, 53% are employed in the agriculture  sector (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013). The study districts  fall within the region’s major cassava districts (as shown on the  Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MoFA) website and in the map  in Figure 1). 

Sample size and sampling technique 

A two-stage sampling technique was used to select the study  districts and sample. The two districts, Yendi Municipal in the  Guinea savannah region and Lower Manya Krobo in the forest  transition region were purposively selected due to the importance  of cassava in these districts and as part of the disease surveil 

lance survey districts. A simple random sampling technique  was used to select 10 cassava farmers each from five randomly  selected communities within each district, resulting in a total  of 100 respondents. Preliminary engagements were made with  the district directors of agriculture to inform them of the pur 

pose of the study but not with the respondents. The farmers were  drawn from a list obtained from the Root and Tuber Improve ment and Marketing Programme (RTIMP) desk officer at the  district department of agriculture. The list was inputted into Excel  and random numbers were generated to assign to respondents  using the RAND function. The INDEX and RANK functions  in excel were used to select the 100 participants. The partici pants selected for a face-to-face interview were informed through  district directors of agriculture. Due to incompleteness of some  of the questionnaires, 94 valid responses were retrieved, represent ing a 94% response rate. 

Data collection 

Data collected was mainly primary and was accomplished in  2017. Data was collected using a semi-structured interview  guide (Nsiah Frimpong et al., 2020b) administered to the  sampled respondents by interdisciplinary researchers (social  scientist: BNF, pathologists: AO, ZAK, LA, JP and breeders:  RP, JMA) with MSc and PhD qualifications and trained  enumerators with Diplomas and BSc degrees in Agriculture (both  males and females) from the districts’ departments of agricul ture. The interviews took place at the homes of the respondents,  either in the presence of other family members or individually  and lasted for a maximum of 45 minutes. Responses were either  ticked or transcribed as and where appropriate. A mixed research  questionnaire was adopted with both closed and open-ended  questions, which elicited both qualitative and quantitative  research variables. This integration was deemed appropriate as  it provided an in-depth understanding of the questions being  posed in the survey. The survey instrument was designed in  English and translated to the local language by the trained  enumerators during field administration. Prior to field data  collection, the research team and trained enumerators pretested  the survey instrument to ensure consistency and logical flow of  questions. 

Individual cassava farmers from selected households were  chosen as the unit of analysis and data collected covered their  demographics, farm level characteristics, knowledge and  experiences with cassava pests and diseases, management  practices employed and their effectiveness, sources of information 

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Figure 1. District Map of Northern and Eastern Regions of Ghana with study areas in the circle. Maps were adapted from original  versions available from Wikimedia under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license (Northern region map – Rwhaun, 2018, https://commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Districts_of_the_Northern_Region_(2018).png; Eastern region map – Macabe5387, 2017, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Districts_of_the_Eastern_Region_(2012).svg). 

on pests and diseases, knowledge on improved varieties  and preferred attributes, willingness to cultivate improved varie ties and knowledge of the new devastating cassava disease caused  by ‘cassava brown streak virus’. There were several triangula tions to check and confirm farmers’ responses on experiences  with practices of managing cassava pests and diseases, variety  names, characteristics and categorization. Triangulation involves  using different methods to collect data on same topic to ensure  validity of results. There are four types of triangulation; data,  investigator, theory and methodological (DźwigoŁ, 2018) and  the study used mostly investigator triangulation. For instance, to  confirm respondent’s knowledge on pests and diseases, he/she  was asked to name and describe the associated symptoms.  Within the multi-disciplinary team, researchers relied on the  viewpoints of the subject matter experts to validate pest and  disease names/descriptions and variety names, attributes and  categorization into traditional and improved during analysis.  

At the beginning of the interview, enumerators explained the  purpose of the study and content of the questionnaire to the  respondents and assured them of the confidentiality of the data  collected. Verbal consent to participate in the study was sought  from all respondents explicitly in their mother tongue before  proceeding to start the interview. Participants could freely ter 

minate the interview at any time if they felt uncomfortable with  some of the questions. During the interview, questions regarding  pest and disease encounter and management were repeated and  further explained to some of the farmers for clarity and to elicit  correct responses. Farmers’ responses were constantly read to  them for confirmation. Once the responses were read to them,  

everything was clarified in the field. However, farmers’ contact  details were taken in order to make a follow up phone call to  clarify issues should the need arise during analysis, but no such  call back was done or feedback on findings given. 

Data analysis 

Data collected was inputted using SPSS 20 software and  were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The  descriptive statistics included frequencies, cross tabulations,  charts, means, minimums, maximums and standard deviations.  The study employed both parametric and non-parametric tests,  which included the t-test and Chi-square test (Fisher’s exact).  The Chi-square test of independence was first run to test whether  any relationship existed between the agro-ecologies and the  management measures employed; however, because the expected  cell values were less than five, which violated the Chi-square  assumption, researchers resorted to the Fisher’s exact test, which  qualified for that purpose. Farmers’ attitudes were linked to  behavioral control methods such as variety cultivated, awareness  of and willingness to cultivate improved varieties, cropping sys tem and choice of planting dates. Practices referred to the actions  taken or coping strategies used when they encountered issues  with pests and diseases. The effectiveness level of the actions was  evaluated on a three-point scale; 1 = “not effective”, 2 = “moder ately effective” and 3 = “very effective”. Inter-regional compari 

sons were carried out to ascertain heterogeneity in the quantitative  variables measured using the t-test. These helped to draw conclu sions about the population from which the sample was selected.  Open-ended questions were coded by reading through the tran scripts severally and themes built for textual analysis. Coding  

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was manually done by two of the interviewers (BNF and RP) and  perspective of other experts in the team sought to aid in the organi zation of responses. For instance, codes like “mounds”, “slant ing”, “cut stem/sticks” were developed for how the planting of  cassava is done and “curled leaves”, “rotten roots”, “yellowing”,  “chew leaves”, “white pests”, were developed for knowledge on  and experience with pests and disease. At the point where research ers realized they had no more codes or new information, the  codes were developed into themes. The textual analysis involved  examining the text and analyzing the sentence structure by  combining both content and narrative analysis for the open-ended responses. While the content analysis dealt with categoriz ing responses under and into themes, narrative analysis looked  at evaluating farmers’ descriptions for pests, diseases, planting  methods, varietal characteristics. 


Respondent demographics 

A total of 94 respondents were selected for the study; approxi mately 53% from the Guinea savannah agro-ecology and  47% from the forest transition zone (Table 1). Table 1 shows  that 77.7% of the respondents were males and 22.3% females.  The majority of the respondents (69.1%) have had some formal  education taken at different levels (basic, secondary and  tertiary), with many of them clustering around the basic level.  A higher percent (91.5%) were married, which presupposes  the support farmers could get from their partners. Again, the  majority (74.5%) of the respondents were household heads and  77.7% were members of an agricultural organization. Descrip 

tively, the analysis revealed some variations across locations  in relation to the categorical variables; level of education,  respondents being head of household and membership of  agricultural organization, as presented in Table 1

Test of equality in means between respondents from  the two regions 

The independent sample t-test was conducted to test for equality  in the means of characteristics of respondents in the two study  districts. The null hypothesis stated that the means of quantita tive variables of respondents from the two agro-ecologies are  the same. The F-statistic and p-values of the Levene’s test of  equality of variance showed that the test assumes equal variance  for all the variables except years in school, experience in cassava  farming and household size, which had p<0.05. Details of the  Levene’s test results are presented as Extended data (Nsiah  Frimpong et al., 2020b). The results showed some differ 

ences across the agro-ecologies. Differences in age, years of  cultivating cassava, years in school and household size were  significant at 1%, while farming experience and proportion  of farm damaged by diseases were significant at 5% and the  number of adult males actively involved in farming was  significant at 10% (Table 2). 

Farmers knowledge of cassava pests and diseases In ascertaining farmers’ knowledge, three aspects were assessed;  experience with any pests and or diseases, name of pests and  diseases and description of pests and diseases encountered.  Results in Table 3 show the regional trend, indicating that  majority of the farmers, 74% and 70.5% from Guinea Savannah 

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

Table 1. Demographic characteristics (categorical variables). 

Variables  All  Guinea 




No.  No.  No.  %
Number of 

respondents by 


94  100  50  53.2  44  46.8















Educational level None 


























Marital status 























Head of household Yes 














Membership of an agricultural 

















and Eastern regions, respectively, experienced pests on their  farms, while 72.0% and 70.4% farmers, respectively, experi enced diseases, with the last period of encounter being quite  recent (2014–2017). It was found that 61.8% of the farmers  perceived whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius), grasshop pers (Zonocerus variegatus), aphids (Aphis gossypii Glover),  mealybugs (Phenacoccus manihoti), termites (Isoptera), and  grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus) as the most common and  damaging pests to their crops. The remaining 38.2% could not  give specific names but generally described them as “whitish  insects”, “flies” or with symptoms such as “create holes or chew  leaves” (Questionnaire ID 11 & 12), “web/wax-like patterns on  the leaves” (Questionnaire ID 17), “pests clustering beneath the  leaves and causing wrinkles” (Questionnaire ID 41), “yellowing  of leaves and leaves dropping” (Nsiah Frimpong et al., 2020a).  More farmers in the Guinea savannah region were able to  give specific names of the pests than those from the Forest  transition region. 

The predominant diseases known by the farmers were the  cassava mosaic disease (22.4%) and root rot (19.4%), which  are viral and fungal diseases, respectively. The majority (58.2%)  

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Table 2. Independent sample t-test results (continuous variables). 

Variables  Guinea savannah  Forest transition  P-value
Mean  Std. Error  Mean  Std. Error
Age  39.48  1.672  48.23  1.793  0.001***
Farming experience  16.76  1.384  21.95  1.629  0.016**
Years of cultivating cassava  11.98  1.155  17.89  1.701  0.004***
Years in school  6.02  0.834  9.11  0.739  0.007***
Household size  11.04  0.598  7.23  0.469  0.000***
Household members actively  involved in farming  4.26  0.403  5.0  0.464  0.229
Adult males involved in farming  1.42  0.181  1.93  0.201  0.061*
Cassava farm size (hectares)  2.12  0.253  2.43  0.274  0.409
Percentage of farm damaged  by pest  27.94  3.764  19.97  3.773  0.153
Percentage of farm damaged  by diseases  25.91  2.981  15.53  3.079  0.018**
Number of extension contacts  9.06  0.348  8.81  0.371  0.622


***, **, and * represent 1%, 5% and 10% significance levels, respectively

Table 3. Farmers’ knowledge of cassava pests and diseases. 

Variables  All  Guinea 




No.  No.  No.  %
Experience harmful pests Yes 














Experience diseases 















Names of common pests Whiteflies 






























Names of common 


Cassava mosaic disease 

Root rot













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of the farmers could not give specific names but used  descriptions such as “black/brown leaf spots”, “curled leaves”,  “mottled leaves”, “yellowing of leaves”, “leaves dropping and stunted growth” to demonstrate their knowledge of  diseases. Out of the 67 farmers who experienced diseases,  only 28 farmers, representing less than half (41.8%), could  explicitly give the names of the diseases that attacked their  farm. Cassava mosaic disease was experienced more in the  North and root rot was experienced more in the Eastern  region. The mean damage caused by pests and diseases was  22.84% and 21.02%, respectively, and ranged from 0–100%.  Results on the distribution and peak of percentage damage by  pests and diseases data showed that pest damage data is  slightly skewed and flat, while disease damage data showed  normal distribution and flatness; hence not many issues  with skewness and kurtosis in the data (Table 5). Out of the  67 respondents who experienced cassava diseases, 74.6%  reported single infections and 25.4% observed multiple  symptoms. Farmers’ responses on knowledge and experiences  of cassava diseases were validated by triangulation using seven  statements that described the common symptoms of bacterial,  fungal and viral cassava diseases (Table 4). With these prompts,  five more respondents confirmed the observance of symptoms  

Table 4. Farmers Response to Disease 

symptom statements. 

Disease symptoms  Percentage of farmers 


Brown spots on the leaves  35.1
White spots on the leaves  22.3
Whitish substance/web-like  strains on the leaves  16.0
Scars on cassava stems/nodes  16.0
Leaf distortion, stunting or  yellowing of leaves  42.6
Progressive death of the leaves  and other parts of the plant  starting from the tips 19.1
Rot in the tubers after harvest  28.7


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on their farm. Multiple symptoms were observed by 21.3%  of the farmers; hence the probability of multiple disease  incidence. In addition to the cassava mosaic disease and root  rot reported by farmers, the symptoms statements revealed that  brown leaf spot (35.1%) and white leaf spot (22.3%) diseases  could also be common in the districts. 

Farmers’ attitudes and practices in cassava pests and  diseases management 

The majority of farmers (74.5%) intercropped cassava with  cereals (maize, sorghum and millet), other roots and tubers  (yam and cocoyam), legumes (groundnut, cowpea, pigeon pea  and soybean) and vegetables (pepper, okro, tomatoes and garden  eggs). Maize (67.1%) and yam (42.9%) were the most common 

(Table 6). The variety names were verified by technical experts  in the team and classified into local or improved varieties;  64% of farmers in the Guinea savannah region cultivated only  landraces compared with 22.7% in the forest transition region.  Solely improved varieties were cultivated by 40.9% farmers  in the forest transition region and 12% in the Guinea savannah  region (Figure 2). Table 7 shows the list of local and improved  varieties identified in the area. Though the majority (86.2%) of  the farmers were aware of improved varieties (Table 8), the local  landraces dominated (Figure 2). 

Most farmers planted cassava around March/April/ May. More  than 90% of the farmers planted the cassava by cutting the sticks  into pieces and slanting it on mounds. The remainder planted  on mounds but in a vertical position. Harvesting was normally  done from 6–24 months after planting depending on the variety 


All (100%) farmers were willing to cultivate improved varie ties, locally referred to as “agric bankye”, provided they could  access planting materials (Table 9). Qualitatively, the top five  desired traits/characteristics included high yielding (big tubers),  early maturing (6 months to 1 year), multiple uses/by-products  (“gari”, “fufu” and starch), disease resistance and tolerance  to harsh weather conditions. There was slight variation in  the traits preferred by male and female farmers. Most of the  males preferred high yielding (big tubers) and early maturing  varieties, but the females preferred early maturing, multiple  food uses and disease resistant varieties. 

Farmers’ behavior in coping with pests and diseases revealed  four options. Similarities existed in both farmers’ immediate and  

Table 5. Distribution of pests and disease damage. 

Variable  Minimum  Maximum  Mean  Standard 


Skewness  Kurtosis
Damage by  pests 100  22.84  20.94  1.22 




Damage by  diseases 70  21.02  17.91  0.95 





Figures in parentheses represent standard errors 

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long-term responses. Table 9 indicates that 45.6% immediately  contacted an agricultural extension officer, 19.1% employed  field sanitation/cultural practices, 26.5% took no action and  8.8% applied pesticides. As long-term measures, 33.8% took no  further action, 29.4% sprayed chemicals, 30.8% observed  cultural practices with some extension advice and 5.9% invited  extension officers to the scene (Table 9). Similar management  strategies were employed for diseases. Questions on the  effectiveness of pest management strategies indicated that 17.6%  believed the practices resorted to were very effective, 36.8%  believed they were moderately effective and 45.6% indicated  they were ineffective. With a mean score of 2.3 and standard  deviation of 0.750, the overall level of effectiveness of the  pest management measures was perceived as being moder ately effective. With disease management, 20.9% perceived the  practices as being very effective, 38.8% as moderately effec tive and 40.3% as ineffective, with an overall mean score of 1.8  (Table 10). 

Table 6. Distribution of cassava cropping 


Variables  Frequency  Percentage
Cassava cropping system
Sole crop  24  25.5
Intercrop  70  74.5
Main crops 

associated with cassava

Maize  47  67.1
Yam  30  42.9


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Testing the relationship between agro-ecologies and  farmers’ pest and disease management practices A more robust test such as the Fisher’s exact test was appropri ate to correct for the small frequency values in each cell and to  satisfy the assumption of carrying out a Pearson Chi-Square test.  The results in Table 11 and Table 12 show that since the P-values  (0.357) and (0.697) were greater than 0.05 for pest and disease  management practices, we do not reject the null hypothesis of  “no association between agro-ecology and choice of practices”.  This means that the two categorical variables are not related  and thus, agro-ecologies are independent of the choice of pest  and disease management practices. 

Sources of information on cassava pests and diseases Figure 3 indicates that the majority of farmers (94.7%)  depended on the extension directorate under MoFA for informa tion on pests and diseases, with the least amount of information  sourced from research institutions. Other sources included  radio (44.7%), fellow farmers (41.5), television (29.8%) and  non-governmental organizations (11.7%). 


The purpose of the study was to examine and understand farm ers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices in coping with cassava  pests and diseases. Insights from this is central to crop protection  and necessary for the development of effective integrated  management strategies. The farmers’ characteristics revealed  that most of the farmers have had some level of formal  education and the study observed an improvement over other  studies (Asare-Bediako, 2014), which have reported low levels  of education among farmers in rural areas. This observation may  be due to the introduction of the Free and Compulsory Universal  Education (FCUBE) policy introduced in Ghana in 1995  (Akyeampong, 2009), which gave most of the people in rural  Ghana, especially Northern Ghana, the opportunity to access  

Figure 2. Graph of variety types cultivated by farmers. 

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Table 7. Names of varieties cultivated in the 

study areas. 

Local varieties  Improved varieties
Gbedze  Ankra
Kumasi  Filindiakong
Osangmonor/ Lagos/ Nigeria  Afisiafi
Tuaka  Bankyehemaa
Techiman  Sika Bankye
Bosomensia  Nyerikobga
Yoribawa  Ampong
Accra boy


Table 8. Distribution of farmers’ 

awareness and willingness to cultivate 

improved varieties. 

Variables  Frequency  Percentage









94  100


Table 9. Distribution of immediate action taken by farmers in pest and 

disease management. 

Variables  Pest infestation (n=94)  Disease infection (n=94)
Immediate Percentage Long-term 


Immediate Percentage Long-term Percentage
Reported to  

agricultural officer

45.6  5.9  43.3  3.0
Field sanitation  19.1  30.8  22.4  43.3
No action taken/ 


26.5  33.8  32.8  37.3
Pesticide application  8.8  29.4  1.5  16.4


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Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

Table 10. Rating of the level of effectiveness of pests and  

disease management practices. 

Variables  Pooled 






No.  %
Effectiveness of pest  management measure
Very effective 

Moderately effective 

Not effective







2.3  0.750
Effectiveness of disease management measure 

Very effective 

Moderately effective 

Not effective







1.8  0.764


Table 11. Fisher’s exact test for cassava pest management practices by 


Agro-ecology  Actions taken by farmers to manage cassava pests
Report to 










Guinea savannah  3 (8.1)  11 (29.7)  15 (40.5)  8 (21.6)
Forest transition  1 (3.2)  10 (32.3)  8 (25.8)  12 (38.7)
Fisher’s exact test (P-value: 0.357>0.05)


Figures in parentheses represent percentages 

Table 12. Fisher’s exact test for cassava disease management practices by 


Region  Actions taken by farmers to manage cassava diseases
Report to 

agricultural officer








Guinea savannah  1 (2.8)  17 (47.2)  14 (38.9)  4 (11.1)
Forest transition  1 (3.2)  12 (38.7)  11 (35.5)  7 (22.6)
Fisher’s exact test (P-value: 0.697>0.05)


Figures in parentheses represent percentages 

education (Ghana Statistical Service, 2013). The moderate level  of education of farmers could expedite technology uptake and  impact positively on any developmental program executed in  the regions. The high number of farmers being household heads  is a promising indicator as it could stimulate quick on-farm  decision making in the area of investment and resource  allocation, since the household heads control family resources.  

Membership of agriculture organizations presents an avenue to  receive current information on agriculture and, more importantly,  on pests and diseases, as well as support for advancing the farm as  projects prefer working with organized groups. 

According to Bloom’s taxonomy as cited in Kusumawardani  et al. (2019), knowledge is the primary step of perception, which  

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Figure 3. Information channels on crop pests and diseases. NGO, non-governmental organization. 

then generates attitudes and results in actions. With farmers  representing a broad demographic pool with regard to experi ence, educational level, age, household head and household size,  the study observed that the majority of the farmers had knowl edge of the damaging pests specific to their crop. This finding is  consistent with Echodu et al. (2019). The pests mentioned  by farmers were among some of the common devastating  cassava pests well documented in literature (PlantVillage and  Mathieu-Colas et al., 2009). Farmers’ over-reliance on their own  experiences, intuition and farmer-to-farmer networks for knowl edge of different pests could be problematic as the right infor mation may be missed. Farmers were unaware of specific insect  vectors with multiple species like whiteflies and mealybugs and  classified them under one generic name, which could affect  the appropriate management strategy being employed. Cudjoe  et al. (2005) made a similar observation and reported that farm ers were generally unaware of the Bemisia whiteflies and could  not identify them by specific local names. Most of the pests  mentioned by farmers are known to be insect vectors of viral,  bacterial and fungal cassava diseases (Fanou et al., 2017). For  instance, whiteflies cause cassava mosaic disease and grasshop pers are known to carry the pathogen that causes cassava bacte rial blight (Fanou et al., 2017). Farmers’ knowledge on diseases  was found to be limited, which is consistent with a study by  Echodu et al. (2019) but contrasts that of Appiah-Kubi et al. (2015). Some farmers, though they noticed changes in the plant  tissues, were unable to associate them with specific diseases.  Disease descriptions depicted that pathogens attacked foliar tis sues, stem and root tissues; thus, causing leaf spots, leaf drop ping, wilting, die-back and rot. Pests, diseases and related  symptoms were used interchangeably, demonstrating farmers’  knowledge gap in cassava diseases. These twists in responses  revealed that farmers need intensive training on simple skills and  tools in pest and disease identification and management. Our  study has shown that mixed infections could occur on the farm,  as reported by the farmers and confirmed by the disease symp toms statements. This adds to existing knowledge, since most  

studies on roots and tuber diseases in Africa (Adam et al., 2015Houngue et al., 2018; Torkpo et al., 2017 and Okonya et al.,  2019) have only reported single infections, but in an open  environment it is possible for multiple infections to occur.  Questions on pests, diseases and symptoms did not plunge  deeper to delineate the crop cycle stage attacked and the sea 

son of the cropping year in which these pests and diseases were  prominent to affirm farmers’ responses. Further studies should  incorporate these stages of the crop cycle and seasons as a  means of validating farmers’ responses. Manu-Aduening et al. 

(2007) in their study on “Farmers’ perceptions and knowl edge of cassava pests and diseases and their approach to germ plasm selection for resistance in Ghana” realized inconsistencies  in farmers’ responses and found cassava mosaic disease, anthra cnose and brown leaf spot to be present on farmers’ fields. This  indicates that these diseases have persisted for a long time, and  efforts and investments should be geared towards its control  to avoid them becoming epidemic. 

Cassava, due to its long growth cycle, is exposed to varying pests,  diseases and climatic conditions and prevention of pests and dis eases requires an integrated approach. Integrated pest and dis ease management practices have been developed by research  institutions but on balance, adoption by farmers is low (Litsinger  et al., 2009), either due to farmers’ inadequate knowledge on  these practices or lack of skill to implement them. In this study,  a little over a third of the respondents “did nothing” in the long  run to manage pests and diseases. Our findings were consistent  with similar studies by Torkpo et al. (2017) in Ghana and Gbaguidi et al. (2005) in Benin, who found that farmers hardly  adopted the management strategies that prevented the spread  of diseases. Farmers opined that they did not know what to  do and others, even after reporting to the extension officers,  received no help. It could be deduced that extension services and training support for pest and disease management are  inadequate. It is worth mentioning that some farmers, based on  their own experiences or advice from extension agents, employed  

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some cultural practices such as killing the pests by hand, rouging,  burning infested plants and weed management to improve crop  vigor. This is consistent with Ntonifor et al. (2005) in Cameroon,  who also found that nearly 30% of the farmers practiced rouging  and other management practices. Nevertheless, only one person  (1.1%) practiced crop rotation and fallowing. These are practices  that have been promoted for a long while, but their application  is still low, and this demonstrates farmers’ attitudes towards  pest and disease management. So, as a long-term solution, some  farmers resorted to pesticide application, which is expensive  and could cause health hazards. Biological control was virtually  nil (1.1%) as a single respondent sprayed boiled neem leaves,  which was seen as effective. The neem tree (Azadirachta indica),  which is a common tree in the tropics including in Ghana, has  been promoted by both agro-foresters and pathologists because  of its multiple uses (Saxena, 2015). Since this is common in  the Ghanaian environment, it must be promoted among our  smallholder farmers to sustainably manage pests and preserve  the environment and biodiversity. We can conclude from the  findings that integrated pest and disease management strategies are rarely implemented and farmers that implemented some  practices were unaware of the benefits and thus may not do it  diligently. Similar observations were made by Gbaguidi et al.  (2005) in Benin and Torkpo et al. (2017) in Ghana. Based on  these revelations, there is a need for strong partnership and all  stakeholders must join in the fight against disease and pest  attacks. Research institutions and the directorate of extension  under MoFA still have much work to do in assisting farmers  manage and control pests and diseases. Research should  regularly build capacity of extension agents, develop packages  of integrated pest and disease management strategies in simple,  concise language and in local dialect that could easily be  assimilated and used by farmers. 

Studies have recommended integrated management measures  such as cropping systems (intercropping with non-host plants),  cultivation of improved resistant varieties, cultural practices  (removal and destroying infested plants, crop rotation, fallowing,  proper weed management), management of planting dates based  on agro-ecology, and soil amendments, which usually results  in high yields (Afrane Okese, 2016; Alam et al., 2016; Dormon  et al., 2007; Mathieu-Colas et al., 2009; and Fanou et al., 2017).  Intercropping has been observed as a common practice among  farmers (Appiah-Kubi et al., 2015; Torkpo et al., 2017). Farmers  applied this only as a diversification strategy to reduce produc tion risk and were unaware of its disease management capacity.  Cassava intercropping is done with short duration food crops  like cereals and legumes, which offers a lot of advantages. Roots  and tubers like yam and cocoyam are also intercropped with  cassava (Appiah-Kubi et al., 2015; Torkpo et al., 2017). With cas sava being a heavy feeder (Mathieu-Colas et al., 2009 and Biratu  et al., 2019), intercropping with leguminous crops improves  soil properties as crop residue serves as mulch. Cassava in  association with yam demonstrates the symbiotic relationship 

between the two crops. The cassava serves as stakes for the  yam, while farmers believe that the cassava bulks well in the  yam mounds. Intercropping, on the other hand, could have  negative effects on disease spread if done with alternative host  plants of certain diseases (Appiah-Kubi et al., 2015). For  instance, yam could host fungus that causes cassava anthracnose  

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

(Afrane Okese, 2016). Thus, it was not surprising that some  farmers observed bud necrosis on their farms. 

Planting improved pest and disease resistant varieties is another  way of curtailing pests and diseases. With cassava mosaic  disease being the most devastating in Africa (Elegba et al.,  2013), improved varieties are normally screened by breeders  against this disease (MyFarm Blog). All the improved varieties 

cultivated by the farmers are known to be resistant/tolerant to the cassava mosaic virus; however, only 25.5% of farmers  cultivated only improved varieties (seven varieties identified  out of the 26 released varieties). Though there is more room for  improvement, this is higher than the 11% reported by Cudjoe  et al. (2005). Most of the local varieties, though perceived to  be high yielding with multiple uses, are susceptible to some  of the cassava diseases and farmers should desist from their  continuous cultivation. For instance, “Tuaka” can yield  32.3 tons per hectare but is susceptible to root rot and  cassava mosaic virus (Amenu, 2015). 

The study observed that pests and diseases were not farmers’ top priority in choosing a new cultivar. Pest and disease  resistance ranked fourth on farmers’ preferred traits. This  demonstrates that though pests and diseases are discussed as  a serious matter, farmers still do not consider it as such due to  lack of knowledge on the extent of both physical and economic  damage caused. Farmers need to be provided with empirical  evidence of the effects of pests and diseases on their livelihoods  to reorient their thinking. Despite the reforms, Ghana’s seed  sector is passing new legislation, which seeks to increase  availability of improved varieties that are not currently readily 

available for farmers to access. Failure in the seed supply  system in Ghana has been attributed to governance challenges that affected all stages of the supply chain (Adu-Gyamfi et al.,  2018). Adu-Gyamfi et al. (2018) reported challenges such as  limited involvement of smallholder farmers in setting  breeding objectives, restricted private sector participation in  seed production, under-resourced public regulatory bodies to  ensure proper certification and over-reliance on weak public  extension systems to disseminate improved varieties. Govern 

ment policies should focus on the need to address these challenges  for an effective seed system in the country.  

When farmers were asked about the effectiveness of the pest  and disease management strategies used, the responses showed  that they were barely effective. It is evident that farmers crave  more effective and efficient pest and disease management  strategies. Farmers must be trained on integrated approaches  to pest and disease management. This could be done by the  research and extension directorate of MoFA. Information on this  could also be disseminated to farmers in their local language  through both print and electronic media in the form of fliers.  Other channels that could be used to educate farmers, especially  in the rural communities, are FM radio stations, social media  (Whatsapp, Facebook, etc.) and televisions in addition to other  regular sources of information. 

Conclusion and recommendations 

In summary, the findings articulate the importance and preva lence of pests and diseases in the study regions, with high number  

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of farmers affected. The study reveals good knowledge of pests  but limited knowledge on diseases. The study has shown that  mixed disease infections could occur, which are rarely reported  in disease studies. However, integrated pest and disease manage 

ment strategies were rarely applied due to a lack of knowledge  and the seriousness farmers attached to pest and disease resist ance traits of crops. Biological control was also rarely an option  for pest and disease management. Supply of improved varieties  and disease-free planting materials was still a challenge, which  resulted in farmers depending on their local unimproved  varieties. Although some farmers practiced intercropping, cul tivated improved varieties and chose specific planting dates,  they were unaware that these could have a direct correlation  with pest and disease reduction on their farms. 

Due to the movement of people and cross-border trade, there  is the need for a multi-disciplinary collaboration within the  sub-region to develop multiple resistant varieties and broad spectrum pest and disease strategies to tackle the wide range of  pests and diseases within the sub-region. The policy implication  of our study is the need to improve farmers’ access to crops with  improved desired traits and disease-free planting material through  efficient dissemination pathways. Increased farmer knowledge on  integrated cassava pest and disease management through pub 

lic awareness creation and capacity building by extension agents  and research institutions is also highly recommended. This  measure will reduce pest and disease pressure on farms, lead ing to high productivity, enhanced food security, and increased  incomes, among other benefits. From the research perspective, the  study identified the need for the breeding team to make farmers  an integral part of the breeding process, in terms of design and  setting breeding priorities, to enhance uptake of improved  varieties and appropriate management techniques. An empiri 

cal study using experimental tools is needed to validate yield  losses reported by farmers. 


Acheampong PP, Owusu V, Nurah GK: Farmers Preferences for Cassava Variety Traits: Empirical Evidence from Ghana, 2013, Fourth International  Conference, September 22-25, 2013, Hammamet, Tunisia 161633, African  Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE), 2013.  

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Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

Data availability 

Underlying data 

Harvard Dataverse: Farmers knowledge of cassava pests and  diseases. https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/27YW9V (Nsiah Frimpong  et al., 2020a

Extended data 

Harvard Dataverse: WAVE Knowledge Paper_Extended  data. https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/AJZDFN (Nsiah Frimpong  et al., 2020b

This project contains the following extended data: 

– WAVE Knowledge Paper_Frimpong et al Wave question naire.doc (copy of study questionnaire) 

– WAVE Knowledge Paper_ Frimpong et al Appendix.doc  (details of the Levene’s test results) 

Data are available under the terms of the Creative Commons  Zero “No rights reserved” data waiver (CC0 1.0 Public domain  dedication). 


The authors are grateful to the West African Virus Epidemi ology (WAVE) for root and tuber crops project and for that  matter, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for providing financial support and the University of Félix Houphouët  Boigny, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, for the technical support to  conduct this revealing study. We also wish to appreciate the  extension agents and other enumerators for collecting quality and informative data that has been added the body of  knowledge. Lastly, our gallant farmers are much appreciated  for their time and participation in sharing their rich information. 

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© 2021 Musiimenta P et al. This is an open access peer review report distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 

Peace Musiimenta

School of Women and Gender Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

Losira Nasirumbi Sanya

College of Agricultural and Environmental Studies, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

Thank you for the opportunity to review this article. We have read through and hereby approve the paper as is. 

Competing Interests: No competing interests were disclosed. 

We confirm that we have read this submission and believe that we have an appropriate level of expertise to confirm that it is of an acceptable scientific standard. 

Version 1 

Reviewer Report 03 August 2020 


© 2020 Musiimenta P et al. This is an open access peer review report distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 

Peace Musiimenta

School of Women and Gender Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

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Gates Open Research Losira Nasirumbi Sanya

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

College of Agricultural and Environmental Studies, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 

Reviewed by: 

Musiimenta, Peace, PhD and Losira-Nasirumbi Sanya, PhD 


The abstract presents the essential background that clearly depicts cassava as a major staple root crop in Ghana with potential to buttressing food security and household income generation despite is susceptibility to pests and diseases. Methods: Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards cassava. The abstract further presents a snapshot of the methodological process, results, conclusion and recommendations. 

The team composition

There is evidence that the study was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team which is commendable. The authors of the article are well established in the field of agriculture and development with requisite knowledge and experience to inform the intended audience in their discipline and policy. 

Relevance of the article: Nsiah-Frimpong et al.’s (2020) article on farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards management of cassava pests and diseases in what appears to be a service to Gates Foundation researchers and grant recipients, provides a robust opportunity for information sharing and creation. Given the importance of cassava to sub-Saharan Africa and Ghana in particular, this article is timely and critical for agricultural research and development. 

Background: The article gives a rich background to the study based on current existing global and national literature in Ghana and other Sub Saharan African countries to emphasis the importance of cassava crop for both global income generation and food security. The developing argument is that cassava, is an important agro-economic activity not only in Ghana and other parts of Africa but also globally because it serves as food for 800 million people in the world (Fondong & Rey, 2018). However, it would have been helpful if the authors had clarified if KAP is a model or an analysis framework and how each of the concepts is defined, measured and operationalized in the study. The objective on finding out the preferred cassava variety traits of farmers is not clear to indicate if these are traits related to pest and disease management or genera, and if the analysis will target different gender categories. 

Notwithstanding, based on the literature, review, the authors clearly identified the gap necessitating their study. 

Key message: The article portrays cassava crop as an exemplary crop because of its agro ecological adaptation, in-ground storage capability and capacity to ensure all year-round food availability and its great potential for industrialization due to its high starch content and varied product utilization. The article asserts that despite the crops’ potential productivity, the efforts to bring it to the optimal level remain low; in addition limited small holder farmers’ capacity to control plant pests and diseases, access cultivars and little knowledge of the pests and diseases or management practices complicate the situation. 

Methodologically, the research that was conducted in the two cassava growing regions of Ghana, Page 17 of 23 

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Northern and Eastern is based on interviews, quantitative data and review of related literature. The choice of mixed methods approach is commendable and captures the multidisciplinary nature of the research team. However, while the study employed a mixed method research approach, the qualitative data collection methods and process was muted which faults the intended mixed methods approach – it is also not clear what the authors mean by a mixed method research questionnaire was adopted with both closed and open-ended questions. 

Similarly, while the quantitative data analysis is clearly explained, qualitative data analysis has some gaps which perhaps explains the absence of qualitative data. The study would have been richer had the team ensured balance between men and women cassava farmers during the selection of respondents as key to address the different segments of the target population. Whereas the authors at one moment indicate to have selected 10 cassava farmers per community and in other sections selected households, it would been better to clearly and consistently indicate the actual sampling unit and clarify the methods used to collect data. 


Strengths and weaknesses: The article presents rich and evidenced-based findings statistically illustrated. Given that this is a Bill and Melinda Gates funded project-known for putting women and girls at the centre of development, (Gates (20141), I would have expected gender being given priority which I find missing. For example, while the authors ably showed revealed that 77.7% of the respondents were males and 22.3% females, they do not proceed to give sex disaggregated data at other levels for example from the majority of the respondents (69.1%) who had some formal education, how many were females and how many were males. Perhaps this could have presented different insights regarding the differentiated knowledge, attitudes and practices. Such silences on sex disaggregation denies the readers interesting insights. Another example is the finding that 77.7% of the respondents were members of an agricultural organization, one would be interested in knowing how many were men and how many were women. Likewise, gender differences would have also fitted in the findings on differences across the agro-ecologies, age, years of cultivating cassava, years in school and household size.  

Another missed opportunity are the voices from the qualitative findings. While the study was based on a mixed methods approach, the reader cannot put a finger on the findings generated qualitatively. Just like collecting qualitative data seems to have been by passed, qualitative findings faced the same fate. The authors refer to qualitative and quantitative methods, but the results presented clearly indicate that only the survey was conducted or qualitative data was left out. In future studies, the authors should ensure that when qualitative methods are employed, they should generate publishable data alongside the quantitative data. As Fossey et al. (20022) argues that Qualitative research aims to address questions concerned with developing an understanding of the meaning and experience dimensions of humans’ lives and social worlds, the collected qualitative data would have augmented the statistical results to answer the why questions. For example, what explains 61.8% of the farmers’ perception of whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius), grasshoppers (Zonocerus variegatus), aphids (Aphis gossypii Glover), mealybugs ( Phenacoccusmanihoti), termites (Isoptera), and grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus) as the most common and damaging pests to their crops? This would have been explained by qualitative data that focuses on details and meanings research participants attach to their experiences. 


The discussion is adequate and backed up with related and relevant literature. A review of the Page 18 of 23 

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working paper by Tufan et al. (20183) could help the authors provide a grounded discussion on the variation in traits preferred by men and women farmers, and probably a compelling explanation why pest and disease resistance ranked fourth on farmers’ preferred traits. 

Conclusion and recommendations: 

The conclusions and recommendations are adequately presented and largely drawn from the study results. The authors adequately provide necessary action to address the gaps identified. Although available literatures indicate the role of farmers in breeding systems, the recommendation on the need for the breeding team to make farmers an integral part of the breeding process, in terms of design and setting breeding priorities, to enhance uptake does not seem to be directly linked to the study findings. 

Appendix: Comments that would strengthen the article (Suggested changes and needed clarifications on the results section): 

For consistency and the reader to follow; use either Guinea Savannah and Forest transition or Northern and Eastern regions. Choose one and maintain same both in tables and text. 

Table 4: Do farmers know the pests by the specified names or they have common local names used? 

Caption/title for Table 5 needs to be revised to make it explicit. For instance, you could say: Farmers response (or scoring depending on how data was collected) to the Disease symptom assessment statements. 

  1. Table 6 should come before Table 5 since it is referred to before. 

Need to explain the mixed infections in the following statement for easy of understanding by a non-technical person: “Out of the 67 respondents who experienced cassava diseases, 74.6% reported single infections and 25.4% had mixed infections.” 

The relationship between cassava cropping system and cassava pests and diseases management needs to be elaborated based on the results in table 7. For instance, was there an increase or decrease in incidence with specific cropping systems or intercrops? 

Figure 2 could be improved to show the variety types cultivated by region and sex of the farmers. 

Table 8 on names of varieties cultivated in the study areas could have been better presented by the two agro-ecologies – Guinea savannah and forest transition region. This could also probably help explain the observed incidences. 

Table 9 could be improved to show the distribution of farmers’ awareness by sex of farmer and consequently discuss implications based on the results in the discussion section. 

The immediate action taken by farmers of “reported to agricultural officer” need to be explained to enhance understanding. Just reporting to an agricultural officer may not be a pest and disease management practice per se but could prompt actual action guided by the 

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options provided by the agricultural officer. 

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

Based on the results, it is not clear how the overall level of effectiveness of the pest and disease management measures as presented (Table 12) was captured, processed and analyzed. 

Figure 3: was the source of information on crop pests and diseases the same across regions? The authors may need to disaggregate the analysis by region or sex to strengthen the discussion. The results should also be arranged in descending order to make the figure look smarter. 

The number of tables is quite high. The authors could reduce on the number by merging some tables for instance tables 1 & 2, then 10 & 11 among others. For the tables, the authors should opt to report either frequency or percentage with sample size (n) specified in the table header or title. Further, try as much as possible to sort the frequencies or percentages in descending order (from highest to lowest) where applicable. 


  1. Gates MF: Putting women and girls at the center of development.Science. 2014; 345 (6202): 1273-5 PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text 
  2. Fossey E, Harvey C, McDermott F, Davidson L: Understanding and evaluating qualitative research.Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2002; 36 (6): 717-32 PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text 3. Tufan HA, Grando S, Meola C: State of the Knowledge for Gender in Breeding: Case Studies for Practitioners. Lima (Peru). Working Paper. No. 3. CGIAR Gender and Breeding Initiative. 2018. Reference Source 

Is the work clearly and accurately presented and does it cite the current literature? Yes 

Is the study design appropriate and is the work technically sound? 


Are sufficient details of methods and analysis provided to allow replication by others? Partly 

If applicable, is the statistical analysis and its interpretation appropriate? Yes 

Are all the source data underlying the results available to ensure full reproducibility? Partly 

Are the conclusions drawn adequately supported by the results? 


Competing Interests: No competing interests were disclosed. 

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Reviewer Expertise: Peace Musiimenta’s area of research is gender and development with a focus on gender and agricultural transformation, women’s socio-economic empowerment, the costs of gender inequality in agricultural productivity and gender and education. Peace Musiimenta is an experienced gender analyst and trainer who holds a PhD in Gender studies. She has attained further professional training Post graduate for Professional Gender Trainers (PDPGT) from Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) Netherlands, a gender and qualitative research specialist for GREAT (Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation) course. She is a lecturer in the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University  and a gender and qualitative trainer for GREAT.  Losira Nasirumbi Sanya is a highly innovative, proactive and result oriented social and development research professional, holds a PhD in Agricultural and Rural Innovation, has professional training in Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D); designing and managing multi-stakeholder processes for rural innovation; value chains and market-oriented research; and Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment of R&D Investments in Agriculture. She is a lecturer in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences  (CAES), a quantitative research specialist and GREAT (Gender responsive researchers equipped for Agricultural Transformation) trainer.    

We confirm that we have read this submission and believe that we have an appropriate level of expertise to confirm that it is of an acceptable scientific standard, however we have significant reservations, as outlined above. 

Author Response 02 Feb 2021 

BNF Frimpong, CSIR – Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana 

Dear Reviewers, 

The authors appreciate your time, constructive criticisms and suggestions to enrich the article. We hope to clarify some of the issues raised as follows: 

  1. The KAP is already clarified in the background as a model and the operationalization of the KAP concepts were also done under data analysis. Under the data analysis section, how effectiveness was measured was also explained.  
  2. The objective of finding out preferred traits by farmers was to ascertain whether “pest and disease resistance” was deemed as an important trait by farmers since farmers will allocate resources to issues that are relevant to them. 
  3. Under the data collection section, the authors never stated they employed mixed method approach to data collection but a mixed questionnaire to capture both open and closed ended questions. This was a survey and mixed research questionnaire was used as an instrument to elicit both qualitative and quantitative information. 
  4. Again, the unit of analysis is explicit as individual cassava farmers which could be referred to under the data collection section. 

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  1. Most of the remaining questions are centered on the gender dimension of the study may be because of the reviewers research interests. The gender perspective could be looked at holistically in our next study as it was not the main focus of this study. This is a small aspect of the WAVE project and this could be looked at in subsequent papers.  
  2. Suggestions on table merging and caption rephrasing have however been effected accordingly in the new version. 
  3. The underlying data was deposited in the Harvard Dataverse repository and the DOI is indicated in the article for reference and reproducibility.  

Competing Interests: There is no competing interests 

Reviewer Report 23 July 2020 


© 2020 Sarkodie Appiah A. This is an open access peer review report distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 

Andrew Sarkodie Appiah 

Biotechnology Centre, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute (BNARI), Accra, Ghana 


The abstract adequately summarizes the objectives, methodology and major findings. It is ○ 

however, suggested that the authors should modify the sentence ‘Some of the farmers observed mixed infections on their farms’ to read ‘Some of the observed multiple symptoms on their farms’ since no definite tests were carried out to ascertain mixed infections. 


The introduction adequately provides background to the research, clearly states the ○ 

problem, justification and objectives of the study. However, the authors are to do the following: ‘African cassava mosaic virus’ should be written in italics as ‘African cassava mosaic virus’ since it is a standard virus name. 


The methodology adopted was consistent with the objective of the study. Results and Discussion: 

The results are well presented and the discussion highlights the importance and relevance ○ 

of the results. 

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Gates Open Research Conclusions: 

Gates Open Research 2021, 4:101 Last updated: 31 MAR 2021

The conclusions drawn are adequately supported by the results. 

Is the work clearly and accurately presented and does it cite the current literature? Yes 

Is the study design appropriate and is the work technically sound? 


Are sufficient details of methods and analysis provided to allow replication by others? Yes 

If applicable, is the statistical analysis and its interpretation appropriate? 


Are all the source data underlying the results available to ensure full reproducibility? No source data required 

Are the conclusions drawn adequately supported by the results? 


Competing Interests: No competing interests were disclosed. 

Reviewer Expertise: Plant Virology, Plant viral disease epidemiology, Diagnostics, Pathogen diversity analysis, Sequencing, Vector transmission. 

I confirm that I have read this submission and believe that I have an appropriate level of expertise to confirm that it is of an acceptable scientific standard. 

Author Response 01 Feb 2021 

BNF Frimpong, CSIR – Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana 

Thank you Dr. Sarkodie Appiah for the constructive review. All suggestions have been 

effected accordingly in the new version. 

The underlying data was deposited in the Harvard Dataverse repository and the DOI is 

indicated in the article for reference. 

Benedicta Nsiah Frimpong (Author).  

Competing Interests: There is no competing interests 

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