Courtesy of Ravi Singh and Arun Joshi, CIMMYT
The vulnerability of wheat in Africa and Asia to the Ug99 race of the stem rust pathogen led to a large scale effort to cover approximately 5% of the area sown to wheat in six countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nepal and Pakistan) to ensure sufficient seed of resistant varieties to displace current popular varieties. This effort, initiated in 2008-09 continued in the 2009-10 and the current 2010-11 crop cycles. Similar efforts are underway in other countries such as India, Iran and Kenya.
In 2008-09, the total area sown across the six countries was 52.6 ha (hectares) with a production of 156 t(tonnes). In 2009-10 this increased to 453 ha and 1127 t. Based on this performance, seed production in the current (2010-11) cycle was undertaken in 7698 ha. The expected production for 2010-11 cycle is 22271 t. In addition, 33302 t certified seed of resistant varieties was distributed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) for planting in Afghanistan. It is estimated that relative to national wheat areas, the seed produced in current cycle (2010-11) will be sufficient to cover more than 5% wheat area in Egypt; 3.5% in Bangladesh, 2.7% in Ethiopia, 1.07% in Afghanistan and 0.20% in Pakistan (Table 1). Assuming that around 70% of seed produced in 2010–11 will again be used for seed multiplication, the situation will improve further.
In addition, a large quantity of seed disbursement of resistant varieties is underway in Iran, India and Kenya. It is estimated that in 2011-12, more than 1 million ha will be under these resistant cultivars.
Significant progress has been made with respect to release of resistant varieties in countries under threat. Most of these countries were able to release resistant varieties in the last year. CIMMYTs contribution in developing these varieties is amply evident as many of them emerged out of the irrigated bread wheat program. The international screening facility extended by the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), for evaluation of resistance and wheat material sent by different countries is playing an important role in identifying resistance against Ug99. The seed multiplication and delivery of these lines is being done through the existing network of national system that involves both public and private sector.