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Raising the Stakes: Cassava Seed Networks at Multiple Scales in Cambodia and Vietnam
Cassava is one of the most important annual crops in Southeast Asia, and faces increasing seed borne pest and disease pressures. Despite this, cassava seed systems have received scant research attention. In a first analysis of Vietnamese and Cambodian cassava seed systems, we characterized existing cassava seed systems in 2016–2017 through a farmer survey based approach at both national and community scales, with particular focus on identifying seed system actors, planting material management, exchange mechanisms, geographies, and variety use, and performed a network analysis of detected seed movement at the provincial level. Despite their status as self-organized “informal” networks, the cassava seed systems used by farmers in Vietnam and Cambodia are complex, connected over multiple scales, and include links between geographically distant sites. Cassava planting material was exchanged through farmer seed systems, in which re-use of farm-saved supply and community-level exchanges dominated. At the national level, use of self-saved seed occurred in 47 and 64% of seed use cases in Cambodia and Vietnam, respectively. Movement within communes was prevalent, with 82 and 78% of seed provided to others being exchanged between family and acquaintances within the commune in Cambodia and Vietnam, respectively. Yet, meaningful proportions of seed flows, mediated mostly by traders, also formed inter-provincial and international exchange networks, with 20% of Cambodia’s seed acquisitions imported from abroad, especially neighboring Vietnam and Thailand. Dedicated seed traders and local cassava collection points played important roles in the planting material distribution network at particular sites. Sales of planting material were important means of both acquiring and providing seed in both countries, and commercial sale was more prevalent in high-intensity than in low-intensity production sites. Considerable variability existed in local seed networks, depending on the intensity of production and integration with trader networks. Adapted innovations are needed to upgrade cassava seed systems in the face of emerging pests and diseases, taking into account and building on the strengths of the existing systems; including their social nature and ability to quickly and efficiently distribute planting materials at the regional level.
Surveillance for Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus (SLCMV) in Cambodia and Vietnam one year after its initial detection in a single plantation in 2015
Cassava mosaic disease, one of the ten most economically important crop viral diseases in the world, was first reported in Southeast Asia from a single plantation in Cambodia in 2015. To determine the presence and incidence of Sri Lankan cassava mosaic virus (SLCMV) one year after first detection, a total of 6,480 samples from 419 fields were systematically collected from cassava production areas across Cambodia (3,840 samples; 240 fields) and Vietnam (2,640samples; 179 fields) in the 2016 cropping season. Using PCR-based diagnostics, we identified 49 SLCMV-infected plants from nine fields, representing 2% of the total number of fields sampled. Infected fields were geographically restricted to two provinces of Eastern Cambodia, while no infection was detected from any of the other sampled sites in either country. Symptom expression patterns in infected plants suggested that SLCMV may have been transmitted both through infected planting materials, and by Bemisia tabaci, the known whitefly vector of SLCMV. In addition, 14% of virus infected plants did not express typical symptoms of cassava mosaic disease on their leaves, highlighting that molecular-based validation is needed to confirm the presence of SLCMV in the field. None of the owners of the SLCMV-infected fields indicated acquired planting materials from the plantation in Ratanakiri where SLCMV was first reported. The surveillance baseline data generated for both countries is discussed in light of future options to control and manage cassava mosaic disease.