Africa-Australia: making waves with Spore
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Bradbury, Howard;Abbiv, Daniel. 2006. Africa-Australia: making waves with Spore. Spore 121. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48006
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore121.pdf
One of the most gratifying aspects of Spore is the way it creates a ripple effect, putting readers in touch with one another and acting as a catalyst...
One of the most gratifying aspects of Spore is the way it creates a ripple effect, putting readers in touch with one another and acting as a catalyst. One clear example came when Samuel Harry Abiye, Principal Agricultural Officer at the River State Development Programme in Nigeria, wrote to us to tell us how he followed up an article in Spore 88 about the work of Dr Howard Bradbury of the Australian National University (ANU), who had developed a kit to determine potentially fatal levels of cyanide in cassava root and products. This equipment formed part of the material and method of my post-graduate thesis work on relating total cyanogens to cyanide diseases, wrote Mr Abiye. That was back in February 2002. Mr Abiye is still in touch with Dr Bradbury and has in fact now become a member of the Cassava Cyanide Diseases Network (CCDN), an organisation launched by Dr Bradbury in 2000 under the banner of Working together to eliminate cyanide poisoning, konzo and tropical ataxic neuropathy (TAN). Cyanide poisoning is a serious cause of death and disability, especially in Africa where many cassava varieties are bitter and high in cyanide levels. Konzo, a permanent paralytic condition of the legs, mainly affects children and young women in central and eastern Africa, especially in periods of drought, when cyanide levels in cassava are higher than usual. In West Africa, TAN is more common. It is a sensory disease, leading to difficulties in walking, numbness, deafness and blindness. Dr Bradbury developed his simple kit to measure cyanide levels in cassava plants and products and has so far distributed 400 of them. I was able to use Spore very effectively to advertise the cyanide in cassava kits, he said when Spore caught up with him recently. Since then we have sent out about 400 kits, each with 100 analyses, to health workers and agriculturalists. There are many who have said that they read about them first in Spore, including Mr Abiye, who is still in touch with me. Dr Bradbury has also developed a simple wetting method which greatly reduces the cyanide content of cassava flour. The flour is mixed with water and spread in a thin layer on a tray in the shade for 5 h. The flour s cyanide content is reduced to between 1/6 and 1/3 of the original level. The damp flour is used for cooking within 24 h. Trials with users in Mozambique, where there is currently an outbreak of konzo due to drought, have proved successful. Further details of the wetting method can be found on the CCDN website, and the cyanide kits are still available, free of charge, for readers in developing countries, from the address below. Dr J H Bradbury School of Botany and Zoology ANU, Canberra, ACT 0020 Australia Fax: +61 2 61 25 55 73 Email: Howard.Bradbury@anu.edu.au Website: www.anu.edu.au/BoZo/CCDN