An international training program titled, “Taking Action to Mitigate the Threat of Wheat Blast in South Asia: Disease Surveillance and Monitoring Skills Training” has been inaugurated on January 4 at the Wheat Research Center (WRC), Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), Dinajpur.
The 13 days (4-16 February) long intensive training has been organized by WRC, BARI in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), The CGIAR research program on wheat, the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) project of Cornell University’s Wheat Initiative, and Kansas State University (KSU).
A number of 40 wheat pathologists, breeders and agronomists from Bangladesh, India and Nepal are participating in the training.
Internationl experts from CIMMYT, Mexico, India, Bangladesh, Cornell University and KSU will facilitate training classes in addition to scientists from BARI and BAU. In-depth classroom and lab training will be held at WRC, with a week-long practical surveillance exercises in farmers’ fields throughout Bangladesh, and sessions on molecular analysis of wheat blast at BARI in Gazipur.
“This training will increase the capacity of Bangladesh and neighboring country scientists thereby strengthening research on wheat blast and monitoring disease through intensive surveillance,” said the Additional Secretary (Research), Ministry of Agriculture Md Fazle Wahid Khondaker while delivering his speech as chief guest in the inaugural session.
Dr. Arun K. Joshi, Country Representative, CIMMYT-India, Dr. T. P. Tiwari, Country Representative, CIMMYT-Bangladesh, Prof. Dr. Bahadur Meah from Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh and Additional Director, Department of Agricultural Extension, Md. Julfikar Haider were present as the special guests in the occasion where Dr. NCD Barma, WRC, BARI chaired the session.
This training program is funded by BARI, CIMMYT, the USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) and CSISA- Mechanization projects, the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, and DGGW project of Cornell University’s Wheat Initiative.
Last year the devastating Wheat Blast disease was observed in Bangladesh for the first time that caused huge loss in the production. Around 15,000 hectares if land in seven south-western and southern districts (Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Jessore, Jheneidah, Barisal and Bhola) experienced crop losses. Average yield loss in affected field was 25-30%, but in severely infected fields it reached to 100% loss.
Actively responding to this problem, The Ministry of Agriculture formed a task force through the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) to suggest recommendations to mitigate wheat blast through a combination of integrated pest management, development and adoption of resistant cultivars and agronomic methods.