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Strange Disease Destroys Cassava Gardens in Kumi

The disease affects the plant as it matures causing the tubers to rot in the garden. When uprooted, the tubers taste bitter with a foul smell.
Family peels cassava in Oduka village, Kumi district.

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Farmers in Ongino Sub County in Kumi district are counting losses after a strange disease ravaged cassava gardens. 

The disease affects the plant as it matures causing the tubers to rot in the garden. When uprooted, the tubers taste bitter with a foul smell. 

Francis Okwakol, a resident of Oduka Village in Ongino Sub County says he has lost four gardens of cassava to the strange disease. He says he just realized the cassava disease attack in June and decided to check all the gardens. 

According to Okwakol, when the fair tubers are eaten, it causes stomach upset and vomiting.

He adds that even its flour when mingled and eaten makes people sick. According to Okwakol, all the cassava varieties including the old NASE 3 also known as Migera have been affected by the strange disease. Other new cassava varieties grown in the district and Teso include NAROCast 1, NASE 14 and NASE 19 among others.

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Lawrence Iberut, the General Secretary in the village committee of Oduka says the disease has affected more than 100 gardens of cassava in the area, pushing several households into starvation. Iberut is asking for quick government intervention into the cassava diseases crisis that he notes has already exposed many people to hunger.

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Currently, the district is investigating the cassava disease attack, which will inform the next line of action.

During his visit to Teso, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze said that his team will look into the matter. 

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In Teso, cassava is the common staple food found in almost every household. Besides its domestic use as food, the community also relies on cassava for income.

The issue of cassava rotting started in Serere and Ngora districts but this was attributed to the overgrown Migera variety that has supported the region for close to three decades. The farmers in the Teso sub-region are, however, shifting to new cassava varieties after registering low yields of migera.