India unaffected but fully prepared to tackle dreaded wheat rust: Pawar

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New Delhi, Nov 6 : Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today gave assurance that there is no threat to India from the dreaded wheat steam rust Ug99. Moreover, if in future the disease happens to spread to India the country¡¦s agricultural research system is fully geared up to tackle it.

The Minister said this while inaugurating the International Conference on Wheat Stem Rust Ug99, A Threat to Food Security, here today.

The conference is being attended by about 150 scientists and representatives from international organizations and watchdog bodies in this area.

Pawar informed the conference that Indian scientists have screened 442 wheat materials against the disease and many Indian varieties have been found with resistance to Ug99. In the current year, out of the 318 Indian wheat materials tested so far, 78 have been found resistant to the disease. The seeds of resistant varieties already released are being multiplied. In 2007-08, nearly 450 tonnes breeder seed of 11 such varieties has been produced for further multiplication this year.

The Minister also informed that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries have started regional cooperation to conduct joint research, survey, training, technology improvement, and spread and adoption of new technology to ward off the threat perceived from Ug99.

While complimenting ICAR an international organisations for working in close coordination to check the spread of the disease, Pawar emphasised the need for enhancing international cooperative research to identify the most appropriate and effective strategy to tackle the Ug99 menace.

The gathering was also addressed by the Agriculture Ministers of Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and Director General (ICAR) Dr. Mangala Rai.

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