Monday, March 17, 2008

Wheat Killer Fungus

This fungus is capable of wreaking havoc to wheat production by destroying entire fields.

This wheat fungus first emerged in Uganda in 1999 and is therefore called Ug99. The wind-borne transboundary pest subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia. In 2007, an FAO mission confirmed for the first time that Ug99 has affected wheat fields in Yemen. The Ug99 strain found in Yemen was already more virulent than the one found in East Africa.

Ethiopia and Kenya had serious wheat rust epidemics in 2007 with considerable yield losses.

Disease surveillance and wheat breeding is already underway to monitor the fungus and to develop Ug99 resistant varieties. However, more efforts are required to develop long term durable resistant varieties that can be made available to farmers in affected countries and countries at risk.

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