Cassava Pest and Disease

Overview

Interviews with over 400 farmers in 13 villages in north-west Cambodia, conducted as part of the ACIAR-funded project Uptake of agricultural technologies amongst farmers in Battambang and Pailin provinces, Cambodia, revealed that farmers wanted help identifying and responding to cassava pests and disease. In response, a ‘knowledge exchange’ between farmers and cassava pest and disease experts was held in November/December 2018 to understand farmer’s existing knowledge and practices and to co-design a pamphlet (in Khmer) that farmers could use to help them identify and manage pest and disease.

The Problem

In the first few years of growing cassava, farmers in north-west Cambodia reported that pest and disease had not been a big problem. Now pest and disease, including mealybug, witches broom disease, bacterial blight, and mites, are a bigger problem and farmers don’t know what to do. Many farmers wanted to know the cause of specific problems, help to identify signs of pest and disease, and information and what to do if they found pests and disease.

Activities and methods

One of the primary goals of the project is to respond to what farmers want and request. As such, the project team organised a ‘knowledge exchange’ between farmers and cassava pest and disease experts to understand farmer’s existing knowledge and and to co-design a pamphlet (in Khmer) that farmers could use to help them identify and manage cassava pests and disease. The knowledge exchange included two focus group discussions and interviews with smallholder farmers.

Research Findings

A number of ‘key messages’ emerged from the knowledge exchange:

  1. Farmers can improve their yield if they control pest and disease in their cassava crop
  2. There are some simple, cheap and effective ways to improve the health of cassava crops:
    1. Select healthy planting material
    2. Remove and burn diseased plants
    3. Monitor and treat pests
    4. Weed and compost to improve soil health
  3. Individual farmers and their neighbours can both benefit from controlling pest and disease

Research Outputs

A pamphlet based on the knowledge exchange has been produced to be used in future work with farmers.

Download the pamphlet “Taking Care of Cassava: Easy ways to manage pests and disease” as an interactive PDF in English and Khmer (6.1MB). PLEASE NOTE: You will need to download and open the pamphlet in Adobe Acrobat (not in an Internet Browser) to be able to select your language.