A global alliance declaring war on cassava viruses in Africa

James Legg, Eklou Attiogbevi Somado, Ian Barker, Larry Beach, Hernan Ceballos, Willmer Cuellar, Warid Elkhoury, Dan Gerling, Jan Helsen, Clair Hershey, Andy Jarvis, Peter Kulakow, Lava Kumar, Jim Lorenzen, John Lynam, Matthew McMahon, Gowda Maruthi, Doug Miano, Kiddo Mtunda, Pheneas Natwuruhunga, Emmanuel Okogbenin, Phemba Pezo, Eugene Terry, Graham Thiele, Mike Thresh, Jonathan Wadsworth, Steve Walsh, Stephan Winter, Joe Tohme, Claude Fauquet

Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

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Cassava, originally from South America, is the fourth most important source of calories in the developing world after the cereal crops wheat,maize, and rice.Worldwide, it feeds an estimated 700 million people directly or indirectly. Cassava production has increased steadily for the last 50 years, with 242 MT harvested in 2012. The increase is likely to continue as farmers in more than 105 countries come to recognize the crop’s advantages. A semi-perennial root crop, cassava can stay in the ground for up to 3 years. This makes it an excellent food security crop: when all other crops have been exhausted, cassava roots can still be harvested. It is naturally drought resistant and resilient to climatic changes, high temperatures, and poor soils, and in addition, cassava responds extremely well to high CO2 concentrations, making it a very important crop for the 21st century. Africa alone accounts for more than 55 % of the world’s production, and cassava is the first food crop in fresh tonnage before maize and plantain in sub-Saharan Africa. Cassava is also an important source of income, especially for women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Furthermore, cassava is the second most important source of starch in the world. Cassava is thus a highly valuable crop for the world today and in the future. It is critical that it should not be compromised by viral diseases.

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