Cablegate: Report On a Regional Planning Meeting Crop


DE RUEHNR #3394/01 2160842
P 040842Z AUG 06






E.O. 12958: N/A
15, 2006


1.The second stage of implementation of the Crop
Crisis Control Project (C3P) was launched with a
regional planning workshop in Kigali, Rwanda June 13-
15, 2006. The goal of this activity, supported by the
Famine Prevention Fund, is a regionally coordinated
response to the catastrophic spread of two serious
diseases of staple food crops, Cassava Mosaic Virus
disease (CMD) and Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW) in six
countries of East and Central Africa. The meeting
brought together over 70 people from seven USAID
missions and implementing partners. They agreed on
procedures to get a wide range of activities going on
the ground as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Participants reviewed the current state of knowledge
about the two epidemics, and about what technologies
are available for combating them. Past and current
activities in each of the countries were reviewed. A
system was discussed which combines household surveys
and geographic information systems to targeting areas
where the diseases are likely to tip significant
numbers of households into food insecurity. Too often
programs that distribute plantings in response to an
emergency have not proven to be sustainable, so better
methods and more sustainable approaches for the
distribution of disease- resistant cassava cuttings
were discussed. Approaches for slowing or even stopping
the spread of banana wilt were reviewed. The country
teams worked together to lay the foundation for their
workplans, and were given clear instructions for
completing those documents. The meeting successfully
defined the scope of the project and the procedures
that will be used to organize the activities of all of
the partners into a single framework. The basic
outline of the monitoring, evaluation and reporting
system was developed. An Advisory Steering Committee
that will work virtually was put in place.


2. The Crop Crisis Control Project (C3P) is a
regional activity supported with $5 million from the
Famine Prevention Fund, a U.S. Government facility set
up to encourage innovative, focused, short-term
programs that can reduce food insecurity and build
effective linkages between emergency relief and
development assistance. It has been organized within
the framework of the Presidential Initiative to End
Hunger in Africa (IEHA). The activity is managed by
USAID/East Africa, in cooperation with EGAT, AFR/SD,
Food for Peace, OFDA and the bilateral USAID Missions
in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Limited Presence
program in Burundi.

3. C3P has been organized under the auspices of
COMESA (the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa) and ASARECA (the Association for Strengthening
Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa).
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been awarded a grant
to implement regionally coordinated, well targeted
activities in all six countries. Their largest partner
with a sub-award is the International Institute of
Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and together they are
leading a network of regional associations and
agricultural institutions, national agricultural
research organizations, NGOs and local implementing
partners. Through separate but coordinated ?fast-track?
mechanisms, existing partners of the bilateral missions
in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC are
participating. In principle, fast-track resources are

made available to facilitate bridging between specific
bilateral mission supported activities with new C3P
activities. In Uganda, a total of US$127,000 were
added to the existing project with the Agricultural
Productivity Program (APEP) to continue campaigns
against the spread of Banana wilt disease and
distribution of mosaic free, cassava planting
materials. In Rwanda, US$60,000 was added to the
Agricultural Technology Development and Transfer
Project (ATDT) to bridge mission supported activities
combating the spread of both Cassava Mosaic and Banana
Bacterial Wilt in selected regions. In the DRC, a
total of US$117,375 was added to a mission supported
project with IITA, focused on improving rural
livelihoods through the rehabilitation of banana and
cassava production in Eastern Congo. During this
period, most of the fast-track activities have been
concluded, setting the stage for the start of the
formal work plan of the C3P program. The sum of these
activities will strengthen regional and national
mechanisms to deliver agricultural technologies and
knowledge to rural stakeholders, reduce the impact of
these plant diseases on the food insecurity of
vulnerable households, while aiding famers to speed
agricultural recovery. The end date of the project is
September 30, 2007.

4. Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease has been recognized
in East Africa for more than a century. Rapid spread of
a new and more severe strains of the disease were
reported in north-central Uganda in the late 1980s.
This has since expanded into a ?pandemic? over a vast
area of East and Central Africa, with devastating
effects on cassava production. The zone currently
affected now covers all of Uganda, Western Kenya,
Southern Sudan, Eastern DRC, North-western Tanzania,
all of Burundi and all of Rwanda (apart from the
Cyangugu region). It is arguably the greatest single
threat to staple food production in the sub-region. A
recent assessment estimates the area affected at 2.6
million hectares, with losses totaling 22 million
metric tons annually. A common response of farmers has
been to abandon cassava cultivation. As cassava is the
primary food staple in much of the affected area, food
security has been drastically undermined. Virtually all
of the varieties cultivated by farmers have proven to
be susceptible. But new, resistant varieties have been
selected by IITA in collaboration with national
scientists, distributed by EARRNET, ASARECA?s cassava
network, and have been multiplied and distributed. IITA
has been supported in the past by USAID?s Office of
Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), to document the
epidemiology of CMD and to organize the multiplication
and distribution of disease-resistant planting material
in collaboration with multiple partners. The C3P will
speed up this process, as well as target distribution
to areas most vulnerable to food insecurity.

5. Banana Wilt is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas
campestris pv. musacearum (Xcm). It was initially
reported about 90 years ago in Ethiopia, as a disease
of a close relative of the banana called Enset. By
1974, the disease had jumped to bananas in Ethiopia.
Then in 2001, outbreaks were reported in Uganda and the
DRC. In five years wilt has spread rapidly through all
the central districts of Uganda and has moved into the
major banana producing districts in the western and
southwestern parts of the country. Likewise, in the
DRC, the infected area has increased substantially to
cover large parts of Masisi District in North Kivu
Province. In Rwanda, two infected sites were observed
in the Cyanzarwe district of Gisenyi Province in

October 2005. In Tanzania the disease is spreading
rapidly from the Ugandan border through the western
districts where bananas are a major staple food. BXW
causes early ripening and rotting of fruits, even in
the absence of other apparent external signs. As it
progresses, it causes wilting and the death of the
plant. Second crops sprouted from infected mats are
severely diseased and often wilt before producing
bunches or produce bunches with rotten fruits. Once
established in a locality, the disease can spread
rapidly up to 70 km per year and is difficult to
eradicate. Without proper management, yields in
affected areas go down to virtually zero.

6. Bananas are extremely important for food security
and as a source of household income in much of the
Great Lakes region. Over 20 million people depend on
them as a main source of livelihood. They are grown
both as a staple food crop and for income generation
mainly through brewing and regional export of both
cooking and dessert bananas. Bananas also protect soil
against erosion and leaching, both through their
massive root system and their aerial leaf cover,
especially in the hilly terrain found in much of the
Great Lakes Region. The components for a regional
response have been developed by ASARECA?s Banana
Research Network for Eastern and Southern Africa
(BARNESA), working in collaboration with the Ugandan
national research institute (NARO) and scientists from
the International Network for the Improvement of Banana
and Plantain (INIBAP), IITA and other international and
national institutions. Control measures for banana wilt
have included public awareness campaigns that inform
farmers about the symptoms and teach disease control
practices, including the removal of the male bud to
restrict spread by insects, destruction of infected
plants and the repeated sterilization of infected tools
to prevent spread from plant to plant.

Targeting the Vulnerable

7. Small-scale, low income farmers in the project
area ? Uganda, Western Kenya, Western Tanzania, Rwanda,
Burundi, and the Eastern DRC - depend heavily on a
small number of staple food crops, of which cassava and
bananas are among the most important. There are many
causes of chronic food insecurity in these areas, tied
both to uncertainty in supplies (availability), low-
incomes and high and fluctuating food prices in poorly
functioning markets that restrict what consumers can
afford to buy (access). Food utilization patterns have
major effects on micro-nutrient malnutrition and other
qualitative factors. The effects of civil conflicts,
periodic droughts and a range of other factors have
provoked emergency food shortages in the DRC, Burundi,
parts of Uganda and scattered areas elsewhere in the

8. The C3P is designed to help partners prepare for
and mitigate the effects of the two diseases, so that
sudden declines in the productivity of these crops will
not tip large numbers of people into food insecurity.
The impacts of biotic stresses on food insecurity have
not previously been documented systematically.
Representatives of IITA and ASARECA?s Foodnet program
explained how they are refining and applying methods to
help the C3P partners target interventions where they
will have the greatest impact, and to document the
process. The extent and causes of food insecurity will
be assessed, building on household surveys, as well as
secondary data from multiple sources. IITA?s geographic
information systems laboratory is pulling these results

together with land-use maps developed by the FAO?s
AfriCover project, satellite imagery, data on the
distribution of cassava and bananas data on the
incidence and severity of the two diseases and data on
the distribution of population. The resulting maps will
help the C3P partners target interventions, and to
monitor their effects. In areas where severe conditions
have triggered interventions by emergency agencies,
there will be many opportunities for C3P partners to
cooperate with programs working with food aid,
nutrition, etc.

Demand-driven Approaches to Disseminating Planting

9. For a number of years, Catholic Relief Services
has been accumulating experience with Seed Fairs, a
system for providing vouchers to vulnerable farmers
with which they purchase seed from other farmers within
the areas where they live. This market-based approach
has shown clear advantages, compared to the wide scale
distribution of free seeds and tools to the victims of
disasters and the chronically food insecure. Food Fairs
provide an emergency subsidy on the demand side, rather
than on supply, and encourage the revitalization of
local systems of production and small-scale trade. The
C3P project will adapt these methods to systems for the
multiplication and distribution of cassava stakes and
banana suckers, which are much bulkier and more
perishable than grain or bean seeds and which can
themselves spread the very diseases that the project is
designed to control. It was agreed that the C3P
partners will constantly evaluate their systems of
multiplication and distribution to tailor subsidies to
overcome specific bottlenecks and to encourage market

Getting Ahead of the Front as Banana Wilt Spreads

10. The partners working on BXW will build on the
experience that has been built up in Uganda over the
past few years. In areas as yet unaffected, partners
will mobilize local communities to form task forces to
mobilize community organizations, NGOs and extension
agents to teach farmers to recognize and prepare for
the disease. As the disease spreads into frontline
areas, the first approach will be the aggressive
eradication of pockets of infestation. Programs will
train trainers, who will move out into the communities
to teach farmers the cultural practices needed to save
their bananas. In endemic zones, where farmers will see
the disastrous impact of the disease, the focus will be
on intensive de-budding and where necessary,
destruction of affected plants. The clean planting
material of relatively ?wilt-escaping? varieties will
be distributed (no resistant varieties have yet been

Development of Workplans and Opportunities for Sub-

11. The C3P is supported by the Famine Prevention
Fund as a focused, short-term intervention. This means
that all of the partners are operating under heavy
pressure to finalize their workplans and get activities
moving on the ground. CRS has hired a Chief of Party, a
Deputy who is also in charge of monitoring and
evaluation, and managers in each of the six countries.
IITA has dedicated time of some of its senior
scientists and has also hired assistants to deliver
specific project outputs. In addition, CRS retains
funds that are available for sub-awards to additional

NGOs, community-based organizations and other partners,
to implement specific elements of the workplans.
Partners will be invited to prepare concept notes by
early August and full proposals to be approved and
funded in September. The goal is to get field
implementation fully underway by early October, when
the next major planting season begins in much of the
region. An Advisory Steering Committee was set up to
review activities for quality, to maintain a coherent
regional approach, and to keep the participating
institutions and key advisors up to date. This
committee will operate virtually, by e-mail and
telephone, to keep transactions costs low.

Monitoring and Evaluation

12. One of the key objectives of the C3P is to
monitor and document how a coordinated regional
response to regional problems affecting vulnerable
farmers can add value to interventions on a bilateral
basis, and by emergency response agencies. The
Monitoring and Evaluation plan was discussed at the
workshop, and will be completely elaborated before
field activities begin. The results of food security
surveys and the GIS mapping will already have been
published by that time.


13. A total of 75 people participated in the
workshop, representing the following institutions:

USAID Missions: USAID/East Africa, EGAT, Rwanda, DRC,
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,

Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA):
Secretariat in Lusaka


Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in
East and Central Africa (ASARECA): Regional Network
Coordinators for cassava, bananas, and Policy Analysis.

Agricultural Research Institute for the Great Lakes
(IRAZ): Direcor

Danish Seed Health Center: Expert

Catholic Relief Services (CRS): Regional offices in
Nairobi and Kinshasa, representatives from all six
country offices

International Institute for Tropical Agriculture
(IITA): Deputy Director, senior scientists on cassava
and bananas, economics, and GIS

Rwanda: International Services for National
Agricultural Research (ISNAR), Extension, World Food
Programme(WFP),World Vision International (WVI),

Uganda: National Agricultural Research Organization
(NARO), Ministry of Agriculture, National Agricultural
Advisory and Development Services (NAADS) (extension
service provider), World Vision, EcoTrust (a national
NGO). DANIDA, UNFEE (farmers? association)

Kenya: KARI (agricultural research), REFSO (national
NGO),Agricultural Cooperative Development International
and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance
(ACDI/VOCA) (private sector)

Tanzania: ARD (agricultural research), Catholic Diocese

DRC: INERA (Institut National pour l'Etude et la
Recherche Agronomiques (DR-Congo), SENASEM (seed agency),
Graben University, SECID (U.S.-based agency involved in
cassava multiplication), Food for the Hungry
International (FHI) and CARITAS

Burundi was unable to send any national representatives
to this workshop, but CRS and the USAID office followed
up a week later with an in-country meeting of key

For further information contact:

Peter Ewell ( or Michael Hall
(, USAID/East Africa
John Peacock, Chief of Party, CRS (,
or Steve Walsh, Deputy Chief of Party, CRS
( or


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