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The government is building capacity of most districts in the country to enable them come up with cassava varieties that withstand mosaic and brown streak diseases. According to Director of Research and Development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Fidelis Myaka, while research institutes were doing various initiatives and have already made breakthroughs across the country, they were currently making efforts to build capacities of districts where the crop is grown. Dr Myaka said that there are some breakthroughs for cassava disease that have already been reached including Mikocheni Agriculture Research Institute (MARI), Kibaha, Ukiriguru Agricultural Research Institute among others. For MARI, whose research was led by Dr Joseph Ndunguru, he said several local cassava varieties were collected from all over the country and a disease resistant gene from another plant administered to give the hybrid resistance to cassava mosaic and brown streak virus diseases. Dr Ndunguru said the new hybrids have nothing much than the new gene for disease resistance hence farmers will not see the difference in quality but yield because the strain ravaging the crop has been contained through the gene implant. On cassava development, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Regional Corporate Communications Officer for Eastern Africa, Catherine Njuguna, told this paper on Tuesday they are doing work on cassava value addition by carrying out research along the value chain including the steps from cassava production all through to processing and marketing to identify the challenges and bottlenecks. On the production side, together with the Ministry, they have been breeding improved varieties that are high yielding and resistant to the major pests and diseases attacking the crop. These include Cassava brown Streak Disease and Cassava Mosaic disease which were attacking all the cassava varieties grown in the country and drastically affecting production. “We have also been looking into good farming practices to increase yield including piloting the use of both organic and inorganic fertilizers. Most farmers do not use fertilizers whether organic or inorganic on cassava. Yet, if we are to talk about commercialization of the crop, then farmers have to use good farming practices that will make the highest yields so there’s enough cassava to eat and to process,” she noted. She added that on value addition, in addition to production, they are also looking into processing of cassava and value addition. “Cassava, on top of being a reliable food crop is also a cash crop. It can be processed into various products for use in the home and industries including high quality cassava flour in the baking industry and starch for use in the pharmaceutical, textile, and food industries among others,” she said. Dried cassava chips are used for livestock feed. She said they have been working on promoting efficient processing of cassava mostly into high quality cassava flour, which from our research, has the highest potential to boost cassava commercialization in the country. Our activities have included designing and improving cassava processing machines, looking into packaging and marketing aspects and linking processors to markets. “On processing we have identified drying as one of the most important bottlenecks in cassava value addition. The processors mostly depend on solar drying and they are not able to process the flour in sufficient quantities and of required quality during the rainy season,” she said.