Baku, April 16, AZERTAC
Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and the key commodity for food security in many regions including Central Asia and Caucasus, as well as the basic staple in this region. Produced largely by smallholder farmers, wheat provides around 60 percent of people’s energy and protein needs. However, wheat rust diseases threaten yields and production, making continuous monitoring, international collaboration and information exchange a necessity.
To this end, the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture has launched a new project to strengthen regional collaboration and national capacities for management of wheat rust diseases and resistance breeding in Central Asia and Caucasus (CAC-Rust). Covering seven countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – the project will run until 2024.
A regional meeting held today marked the launch of the project. During the virtual event, key representatives – including officials from participating countries – advocated for improved regional collaboration, national surveillance, race analysis, integrated disease management and the development of disease resistant varieties essential for preventing and managing wheat rust diseases.
The project is expected to facilitate collaboration among national institutions and international organizations such as the Regional Cereal Rust Research Centre based in Izmir, Turkey, the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, and the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre.
The meeting included contributions from senior officers of FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture of Turkey. Sumiter Broca, FAO Senior Policy Officer, highlighted both the importance of wheat to food security and the need to increase its resilience against biotic and abiotic stresses. Volkan Güngören, Deputy Director General of the Ministry’s European Union and Foreign Relations Directorate, underlined the importance of regional collaboration to improving food security in the region and emphasized Turkey’s efforts to strengthen this collaboration through the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme.
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