Cassava Virus Action Project

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The challenge:

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. The Cassava viruses are mostly impacting crops in East Africa however there are many other Cassava-producing nations throughout Africa whose crops are also at risk if the viruses are not controlled. To date, researchers have utilized costly and time-consuming conventional methods to diagnose plant pests and disease. Current technology to detect or identify viruses can take up to 6 months and these delays compound the magnitude of crop losses and food shortages suffered by farmers.

What can be done?

Direct rapid DNA/RNA sequencing of infected material on-the-spot or near sample collection sites can turn the conventional research paradigm on its head by taking the laboratory closer to farmers’ fields, providing critical “on-farm” data for early action and disease control and protecting food security and income for millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa.

How Cassava Virus Action Project is meeting the challenge:

Cassava Virus Action Project works to decrease the time to precisely detect and identify pathogens, vectors or pests, increase resolution and reliability of results by utilizing the power of low cost pocket (portable) DNA extraction and sequencing devises, coupled with innovative data generation and analyses pipelines. This real-time diagnosis in the field or rural laboratories can quickly provide high quality and reliable diagnostics data to help farmers, seed certification agencies, scientists, crop protection and extension officers make timely and informed decisions regarding disease management. This timeline information is critical for sustainable crop production and management of pests and diseases, and helps ensure food and income security for millions of Africans.

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