By Oscar Nkala
The Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) says declining cassava production affected the export volumes of roots and tubers in 2017.
RAB Head of Crop Production and Food Security Dr Telesphore Ndabamenye said export earnings from roots and tubers declined by 40% from US$7.9 million in 2016 to US$4.7 million in 2017.
He attributed the decline in productivity and export volumes to an outbreak of the cassava brown streak virus, which has destroyed many plantations across the country since 2014. However, Dr Ndabamenye said the situation could improve this year because the disease is now under control.
“We have been fighting cassava brown streak virus disease since 2014, but its over now. The biggest challenge we had was getting new seeds for propagation. We have enough planting materials for this year, and we expect a bumper cassava harvest by mid-next year,” he said.
The cassava brown streak has affected 90% of the crop grown across Rwanda in the past 3 years. Apart from local consumption, Rwanda produces cassava for export, mainly to neighbours including Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It also exports cassava and cassava flour to France.