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Cassava value chain/Tanzania – A new destructive pest invades cassava and other food crops

07 June 2015

A new destructive pest is rapidly spreading through the coastal areas of Tanzania around Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, attacking cassava sector. Apart from cassava, destructive pests invaded other important food crops such as papaya and ornamental plants such as hibiscus and frangipani. From its origin in Mexico, it was first observed on the African continent in Ghana in 2010 from where it spread to Benin, Nigeria, Togo, and Gabon. This discovery in Tanzania means that the rest of East Africa is now likely to be affected as well, according to Dr James Legg, IITA entomologist. This highly invasive pest has also been spreading and causing damage in many Asian and West African countries. According to scientists from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), identified it as the Papaya Mealybug (Paracoccus Marginatus). Mealybug are tiny, white, flat insects which suck the life out of plants. The affected plants don’t grow properly and farmers are unable to sell the often misshapen, discolored, and (in severe cases) completely shrivelled crops. The mealybug are easily blown by wind or carried by ants from one plant to another. They are transported longer distances by people who unknowingly carry infested plants or fruit from one part of the country to another, or from country to country.


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