Govt tackles whiteflies infestation on cassava farms

Cassava leaves infested by whiteflies

The Federal Government said steps have been taken to improve the output of cassava production in Nigeria by tackling the whiteflies infestation of cassava farms across the country.

It said studies showed cassava varieties have lost vigour against whiteflies attacks.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, disclosed this, Tuesday, in Akure, at a workshop on capacity building development for 120 cassava farmers from Ondo, Ekiti, and Edo states.

The 120 cassava farmers were trained in the control and management of whiteflies infestation.

Mohammed was represented by the Ondo State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Tony Otunoye.

He said the training was to sensitize farmers and other stakeholders along the cassava value chain on the basic concept of agricultural best practices on whitefly and disease control in cassava production.

He said: “Whitefly is an old scourge, but cassava farmers are now overlooking it, but the disease is becoming stronger. The cassava varieties that we released then are losing vigour, so the Ondo State programme manager of Agriculture Development Programme (ADP) and his team alerted the Federal Government and we have to swing into action.

“So, this training is to teach cassava farmers how to manage the disease and increase their production.”

He stressed that the essence of the training was to ensure that the cassava production system is aimed toward sustainable agriculture and ecologically safe, so as to obtain harmless products of high quality, and to contribute to food security and income generation.

Whitefly is an old scourge, but cassava farmers are now overlooking it, but the disease is becoming stronger.

Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Olayato Aribo, said the state raised the alarm when it discovered the majority of farms across the state were attacked by Whiteflies.

Represented by the Programme Manager, Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture, Babasola Adeniyan, the Commissioner said the attacks resulted in a low yield of cassava output in 2021.

“From one hectare of cassava, an average farmer is supposed to have 25 – 30 tons of roots but the yield was reduced generally to about 20 tons because of this disease.

“No cassava crop will produce well where the best and desirable agronomic practices such as weed, whitefly pest, and disease control are ignored, hence the need to sensitize cassava farmers in Nigeria on improved methods and best practices of weed, pest and disease control to increase cassava yield.”

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