‘Indian wheat capable resisting stem rust attack’

August 30th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) A state-owned agriculture research body Saturday claimed Indian variety of wheat was capable of effectively resisting any attack of the Ugandan stem rust called Ug99.”With the help of genes, we have been able to minimise the loss caused by the fungus Ug99. The genes in Indian wheat prevent the fungus from causing any harm,” the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said Saturday in a statement.

The ICAR, an agency under the ministry of agriculture, said precautionary measures were being taken to track Ug99 or any other such variants of fungus in the vulnerable states like Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

“As an immediate relief measure, chemical control technology is also available to ensure that this race does not spread and cause damage,” it added.

The destructive fungus is said to have already hit wheat crops in Iran and Yemen, and has reached Pakistan and Afghanistan, the neighbouring countries of India, and hence a cause of concern.

“As a precautionary measure, a special team has been constituted to survey and monitor the summer wheat crop in the higher hills of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, southern hills in Tamil Nadu to detect and track down Ug99 or its variants,” the body said.

“A new version of the popular variety PBW 343, which is reported to possess in-built resistance to Ug99 is also being acquired from International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas (ICARDA), Syria, for its seed multiplication and utilisation in the country,” the ICAR said.

It added that the Ug99, which was detected in Uganda in 1999, had been since then the most destructive disease of wheat and barley, and has inflicted very heavy losses worldwide.

“Not willing to take any chances with the potential threat, the council has taken necessary steps in wheat research programme to safeguard the wheat crop against destructive pathogen like Ug99,” the statement said.

India’s food grain production was estimated at 230.67 million tonnes in 2007-08.

As per the fourth Advance Estimates of Crop Production for 2007-08, there is an absolute increase of 13.39 million tonnes in food production at 230.67 million tonnes, compared with 217.28 million tonnes in 2006-07.

The production of rice stood at 96.43 million tonnes, wheat 78.40 million tonnes, coarse cereals 40.73 million tonnes, maize 19.31 million tonnes, pulses 15.11 million tonnes, and oilseeds 28.82 million tonnes.

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