For the second year in a row, Afghanistan is aiming to produce enough certified seed to meet 10% of its annual wheat seed requirement. However, more than 80% of the total certified seed under production is susceptible to stem rust race Ug99. In response to the sudden emergence of new virulent races of stem and yellow rusts, chemical control of rust in wheat is increasing in several parts of the world. In Afghanistan, the situation is complicated by the fact that virulence to yellow rust race Yr27 has also been discovered and that Ug99 has been detected in neighboring Iran.
A training program on fungicide use to control wheat rusts was therefore jointly organized by CIMMYT-Afghanistan and the Plant Protection and Quarantine Department (PPQD) of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) under the USDA-sponsored project “Initiative for Food Security and Stability in Afghanistan.” The course took place during 22-23 April 2012 at MAIL’s Dr. Wakeel Hall and was conducted by plant pathology professor Ramesh Chand, of Banaras Hindu University, India.
The course was attended by 54 representatives of government agencies such as PPQD, ARIA (Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan), and ISE (Improved Seed Enterprise), plus participants from FAO, ANSOR (Afghanistan National Seed Organization, the umbrella organization of private seed enterprises operating in the country) and JDA (Joint Development Associates), an NGO operating in the northern part of the country.
Mir Aminuddin Haidari, general director of PPQD, inaugurated the course, stressing the need to enhance the capacity of government staff to support the production of wheat, an important food crop. Chand covered topics ranging from types of rusts, causal organisms, disease scoring, types of chemicals, and the concept of formulations in addition to the core subject, the use of fungicide to control rusts in wheat. The discussion also included procedural details, safety precautions, and disposal of leftover materials.
The second day of training included a practical demonstration in the fields of nearby ARIA research station at Darul Aman. A general lecture on Ug99 also given on that day attracted such a large audience from other departments that a repeat lecture was organized on 24 April at Kabul University’s School of Agriculture, which was attended by a large number of students and faculty members. Both trainees and ministry officials expressed their satisfaction with the course.
As a follow-up, the USDA-sponsored project is making available a total of 70 fungicide sprayers, plus the appropriate fungicide, to PPQD to manage any rust outbreak on wheat seed production plots in Nangarhar, Kabul, and Balkh provinces.