DAR ES SALAAM, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) said on Friday Tanzania was losing 50 million U.S. dollars annually from viruses in cassava crop.
James Left, a principal scientist with IITA, an international research organization working across Africa to tackle hunger, poverty and malnutrition through research in agriculture, said the viruses affected half of the cassava crop produced in the east African nation.
Speaking at the 50th Anniversary of the IITA in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, Left said almost half of all crops produced in Tanzania were affected by diseases which hugely affected the country's agricultural sector.
Victor Mayong, IITA Eastern Africa Director, said a new banana bacteria was posing a threat to Tanzanian banana growers.
Mayong said the bacteria was recently discovered in Mozambique, Tanzania's southern neighbor, adding that IITA was working with Mozambican authorities to control the bacteria before it spread to Tanzania.
Mayong said the institute was now focusing on inventing technologies that will reduce different crop threats and ensure that the agricultural sector becomes an engine of growth.
"These technologies are vital in reducing rates of damage attained throughout the farming and harvesting process and increase productivity and improve lives of people," he said.
IITA research focus on tackling crop diseases such as cassava virus or banana bacteria, on reducing aflatoxin contamination in food, adding value to primary production and efforts to attract youth to agriculture.