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CAC-RUST CONFERENCE ORGANIZED IN BAKU…

Press release…

International cooperation is essential for the rapid and continuous exchange of monitoring results, research indicators, experience and knowledge to limit the damage caused by wheat rust diseases…

24 May 2023, Baku, Azerbaijan – Wheat is the most cultivated food crop in the world. However, a number of biotic factors affect its productivity and production volume. One of these is rust disease caused by species of the fungus Puccinia spp. The disease is widespread in Central Asia and the Caucasus and many other parts of the world, and is spreading rapidly. The area affected by rust diseases is expanding for two main reasons – dissemination of wind-blown fungal spores over long distances and the limited availability of resistant cultivars.

The damage caused to wheat productivity by rust disease and the emergence of new variants underlines the need for effective countermeasures. International cooperation is essential to these efforts, and vital to increase surveillance, ensure rapid and continuous exchange of monitoring results, and strengthen research efforts, capacity building, and knowledge generation and sharing.

Work on wheat rust diseases in Azerbaijanis supported by a collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the context of the project “Strengthening regional collaboration and national capacities for management of wheat rust diseases (CACRust)”. The collaboration includes support for measures to combat the diseases, development of a national strategy against rusts, and efforts to educate farmers and increase the knowledge level of specialists.

The project has spanned two years. During that period, four training courses have been organized for 40 specialists and 60 farmers on the use of wheat rust resistant varieties and Integrated Disease Management techniques to manage the diseases effectively. One officer also participated in a training course entitled “Monitoring of cereal rust diseases in Central Asia and the Caucasus, race analysis and integrated disease management” organized at the Regional Grain Rust Research Centre in Izmir, Türkiye, on 8–17 May 2022.

During the project period, a National Strategic Programme and Contingency Plan was prepared to determine the status of wheat rust diseases in the country, assess the institutional infrastructure and promote measures to combat the diseases, especially where they pose a major threat.

The conference held in Baku organized on 18 May 2023 by FAO and the Agrarian Services Agency under the Ministry of Agriculture presented the results of the completed activities, discussed reports and determined future activities. Conference participants included specialists of the FAO Subregional Office for Central Asia, located in Türkiye, and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Azerbaijan Food Safety Agency and scientific research institutions.

Rafail Guliyev

Rafail Guliyev, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, gave an opening speech at the conference and presented detailed information about measures taken to ensure food security in the country.

Jafar Maharramov, Deputy Chairman and Acting Chairman of the Agrarian Services Agency under the Ministry of Agriculture, informed participants about the National Strategic Programme and Contingency Plan, and noted the importance of regional cooperation and the role of information exchange between countries and institutions.

Bariz Mehdiyev, assistant to the representative of FAO in Azerbaijan, provided details about FAO’s cooperation programmes, and confirmed the Organization’s support for the preparation and implementation of the Strategic Road Map against Rust Diseases.

During the conference, Imran Jumshudov, head of the Department of Organization and Monitoring of Crop Production of the Ministry of Agriculture, presented work undertaken to implement the recent Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 19 July 2022 “On a number of measures to increase the level of self-sufficiency with food wheat”.

Ibrahim Jafarov, Director of the Plant Protection and Technical Plants Scientific Research Institute, summarized recent research activities on wheat diseases. Jafar Maharramov, Acting Director of the Agrarian Services Agency, emphasized the importance of the collaboration between AXA and FAO as a means to combat this disease and protect the country’s most important crop.

Bariz Mehdiyev

Fazil Dusunceli, Agriculture Officer of the FAO Subregional Office for Central Asia, advised the participants about the progress of project activities, future steps to be taken, and the importance of rust monitoring, race analysis and international cooperation in the management of wheat rust diseases.

The conference concluded with panel discussions. This session sought feedback from the participants to finalize the National Strategic Programme and Contingency Plan and enhance measures to mitigate the risks of wheat rust diseases.

About the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programmes

The objectives of the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programmes are to provide support to ensure food security, rural poverty reduction and sustainable forest management; combat desertification; and preserve ecosystems in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and other countries of mutual interest.

Established in 2007, the first phase of the FAO-Türkiye Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture (FTPP) has benefited from trust fund contributions totalling USD 10 million, financed by the Government of Türkiye and represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. During the first phase of the programme, 28 projects were implemented in 16 countries between 2009 and 2015.

In 2014, Türkiye and FAO commenced the second phase of the FTPP along with the first phase of the FAO-Türkiye Forestry Partnership Programme (FTFP) with additional funding of USD 20 million, bringing Türkiye’s total contribution to USD 30 million.

About İsmail Uğural

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