Approximately 800 million people rely on Cassava, either as a source of food or a source of income. But Cassava is being devastated by two viruses, both transmitted by the whitefly: Cassava mosaic disease and Cassava brown streak disease.
The Cassava Virus Action Project is a network of researchers, farmers and others, collaborating to use genomic technologies to improve the management of these Cassava viruses. For example, if you can analyze the DNA of the virus, quickly and close to the crop, you could understand what virus it is and decide what action to take. We hope that we will empower local communities to take decisions that maximize their crops while also minimizing the spread of these whitefly-borne viruses.
The Cassava viruses are mostly affecting people in East Africa: Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, DR Congo and Zambia. But there are many other Cassava-producing nations, across West Africa or South East Asia for example whose crops are at risk if spread of the viruses is not well controlled.
Our first mission is to continue the collaborative work of the Cassava Disease Diagnostic team and bring mobile sequencing (using the MinION from Oxford Nanopore) to labs in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
Please follow our blog where we will keep you updated on our progress.