RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
1. Monitoring and mapping of hotspots and virus-free areas
- Geo-referenced field surveys were carried out in all seven WAVE member countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo). These included field assessments of the health status of cassava fields using a mobile survey app to ensure high quality data
- CMD and CBSD incidence and severity maps have been produced for the seven WAVE program member countries. These maps indicate the disease hotspots that can be used to screen genetic material to identify virus-resistant cassava varieties and ensure their rational deployment. In addition, WAVE is currently testing elite cassava varieties from West Africa for resistance to CBSD in Namulonge, Uganda, a hotspot for CBSD and CMD.
- Virus-free locations have been identified for the multiplication of plant materials. This work will ensure the availability of virus-free planting material for cassava farm
- A multidimensional cube-data technology for the management of the WAVE program data: working with the BMGF-funded AgShare.Today program, WAVE has gathered all its data – from field surveys and from in-depth laboratory work to identify virus strains – into a state-of-the-art online database that will allow the programme to make new and more efficient use of its data. This is one of the first examples of the use of this technology with agricultural data in Africa.
2. Improved understanding of vectors and hosts
- The prevalence of whitefly populations in cassava fields in the seven WAVE member countries is recorded, as whiteflies are known to spread cassava viruses.
- Cassava leaf samples were analyzed using harmonized laboratory protocols. he large dataset produced allows comparisons across all WAVE countries and has confirmed that in West Africa CMD is primarily spread through infected cuttings, though whitefly still plays a role. This implies that training farmers on the use of clean planting material could lead to significant improvements.
3. Improvement of early detection and diagnosis
- Diagnostic tools have been improved in all WAVE network member institutions. The use of harmonized protocols allows for regional monitoring and modelling to build epidemiological models of disease progression. These can be used to inform strategies for monitoring and managing current and emerging diseases.
- Biotechnological laboratories were refurbished or built and equipped in all institutions hosting the WAVE program in all the countries concerned. In Côte d’Ivoire, where the WAVE program is headquartered, diagnostics facilities were established and opened in 2016. Comprising two state-of-the-art laboratories (Molecular Biology/Virology Laboratory and Biotechnology/Tissue Culture Laboratory), an auditorium and offices, these facilities are an important milestone in efforts to strengthen the region’s capacity in identifying and monitoring root and tuber plant diseases.
- The production and distribution of healthy plants has been improved and WAVE’s current facilities in Côte d’Ivoire and Benin allow for the mass production of virus-free vitroplants
- Cassava cultivars resistant to viruses have been identified and can now be used to breed new varieties for cassava
- Surveillance is being carried out to study the spread of CBSD from East and Central Africa. CBSD has not yet been detected in West Africa. However, WAVE surveys showed it is already present in eastern DRC, which indicates that the disease is spreading. This means that the work WAVE is doing to track and identify the viruses and put in place initiatives to combat their spread, such as generating clean planting material and engaging with the public, is more important than ever.
4. Sharing of Knowledge and Protocols
- Sensitization and trainings were carried out in the seven WAVE member countries. WAVE organized workshops, farmer field days and media campaigns in all program member countries to further sensitize farmers, extension officers, policy-makers and public opinion on the threat posed by the CBSD and to train producers to recognize the disease symptoms and select healthy planting materials for planting.
- Key information was shared with breeders. Protocols on the use, production and identification of healthy planting material, as well as information on hotspots and virus-free localities were shared with breeders and multipliers.