Le projet « West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) for Root and Tuber Crops » est un projet régional, regroupant plusieurs pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Côte d’Ivoire, Nigéria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Bénin et Togo) avec des partenaires du Royaume Uni et des Etats Unis (Rothamsted Research, University of Cambridge et Pennsylvania State University).
Résumé en anglais :
Empowering smallholder farmers and appropriate stakeholders to better manage virus diseases of root crops in West Africa is a crucial step in ensuring food security in the region. This project will address virus diseases that infect root crops (Cassava, yams and sweet potato), which are the preferred carbohydrate foods for more than 800 million people in Africa. Although sporadic efforts have been made in the past to identify and characterize the viruses that infect these crops in West Africa, individual methodologies for sampling and sample analysis varied, limiting the value of the data generated. There is therefore no clear knowledge and understanding of the virus threats to root crop productivity in West Africa. The West African region has a number of excellent plant virologist and breeders interested in root crops, either working independently or at best with minimal collaboration, such that the effects of their research outputs on the targeted farmers and policy makers are limited.
In its first phase, the WAVE project will establish a clear understanding of the virus threats to cassava production in West Africa by conducting geo-referenced field surveys in six major cassava-producing countries in the region, using harmonized sampling and analysis protocols. The current status of cassava viruses, their vectors and their alternative hosts will be established and diagnostic tools will be improved based on this knowledge. Taking advantage of modern environmental and disease monitoring systems, phylogenetic and phylogeography approaches, this project will seek to understand and predict root crop virus emergence, evolution and spread in West Africa. Then, policy makers, private sector and other stakeholders will be alerted and sensitized on the economic importance of cassava viruses while recommendations and policy options for the management of cassava virus diseases will be developed and made available to appropriate policy makers.
Another major issue that will be tackled is the availability and use of clean planting material, which will be addressed in this project through identification of hotspots and low disease pressure sites for germplasm evaluation and clean seed multiplication respectively. The basic approach to virus control in vegetatively propagated crops is the use of clean planting materials. Breeders will be trained on proper assessment of virus resistance while farmers and other stakeholders will be educated on the need and appropriate use of clean planting materials. Accurate information required for targeted deployment of resistant/tolerant planting materials and virus epidemiological models useful to prevent disease outbreaks or to reduce disease impact will also be generated through this project.
Due to the porous land borders and the indiscriminate exchange of planting materials through these borders, a regional approach to the monitoring and management of root crop viruses is essential for West Africa. Therefore, national and regional capacity to respond to root crop virus threats will be strengthened by refurbishing or minimally equipping existing laboratories in the participating countries. Furthermore, young scientists and students from each participating country will be trained in various aspects of plant virus epidemiology. Giving the Anglophone-Francophone language barrier between researchers in West Africa countries, the communication skills of research partners within the WAVE project will be enhanced for ease of knowledge sharing and greater integration in the region.