By Grace Wekesa
A new disease has hit cassava farmers in Busia County sparking fears of poor harvest.
The viral disease is threatening to wipe out the crop.
The disease, known as brown streak, affects the crops’ tubers making them rot and unsuitable for human consumption.
Affected crops have yellow leaves and soon wither.
The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) and the Ministry of Agriculture have teamed up to find a solution. Kakamega Kari centre director Francis Muyekho said he had instructed field officers to advice farmers to uproot and burry affected plants to avoid the disease spreading.
Mr Muyekho said some cassava varieties Kari had developed were still resistant to the disease and advised farmers to plant them.
He noted that the disease has come at a time when the region was experiencing a shortage of cassava and sweet potatoes.
The disease paints a gloomy picture of food security in the area since the crops are mainly consumed in dry seasons when other food crops are in short supply.
The director observed a similar disease hit cassava farmers about a decade ago and they are yet to recover. Many farmers then switched to sugarcane farming.
“Sugarcane is now a highly paying crop especially in areas where two factories, Butali and West Kenya, are located. The two are offering better prices to farmers,’’ he said.