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Farmers to get disease-resistant wheat

09 September 2013, 17:26

Nairobi - Six tonnes of seeds of a new disease-resistant wheat will be distributed to farmers for the next planting season.

This follows Eldoret University, debuting two new varieties of the wheat to the nation’s farmers during a two-day agriculture fair highlighting the latest farming technologies.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization have supported the development of the new varieties.

Food security

“Improving food security in developing countries through the use of nuclear techniques is an important priority of the IAEA. I am pleased that we have been able to make an important contribution to fighting wheat rust,” said IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano.

FAO Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva, concurred.

"Food security cannot be improved within just one nation. This project has shown how many nations and organizations can work together effectively to defeat a global threat. This illustrates FAO’s new strategic objectives,”
he said.

The two organizations manage an interregional technical cooperation project to develop varieties of wheat that are resistant to a devastating type of fungus, causing a disease known as wheat stem rust.

Wheat stem rust was believed to have been under control for over 30 years, but a resurgence of the disease was discovered in 1999 in Uganda that swiftly spread to neighbouring Kenya.

The wheat stem rust, triggered by the fungus known as Ug99 after its place and year of origin, has since spread to Iran, Yemen and South Africa and threatens crops as far away as India as spores are carried by wind.

Parasitic rusts threaten global wheat production, reducing plant growth and crop yields.

The disease can destroy 70-100 percent of the yield of wheat plants if no fungicides are applied.

- CAJ News


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