FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

New effort strengthens regional collaboration against wheat rust diseases

Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and the key commodity for food security in many regions including Central Asia and Caucasus, as well as the basic staple in this region. Produced largely by smallholder farmers, wheat provides around 60 percent of people’s energy and protein needs. However, wheat rust diseases threaten yields and production, making continuous monitoring, international collaboration and information exchange a necessity.

To this end, the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme on Food and Agriculture has launched a new project to strengthen regional collaboration and national capacities for management of wheat rust diseases and resistance breeding in Central Asia and Caucasus (CAC-Rust). Covering seven countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – the project will run until 2024.

A regional meeting held today marked the launch of the project. During the virtual event, key representatives – including officials from participating countries – advocated for improved regional collaboration, national surveillance, race analysis, integrated disease management and the development of disease resistant varieties essential for preventing and managing wheat rust diseases.

The project is expected to facilitate collaboration among national institutions and international organizations such as the Regional Cereal Rust Research Centre based in Izmir, Turkey, the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, and the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre. Project activities will also complement work carried out in the context of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative of which FAO is a member.

The meeting included contributions from senior officers of FAO and Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry . Sumiter Broca, FAO Senior Policy Officer, highlighted both the importance of wheat to food security and the need to increase its resilience against biotic and abiotic stresses. Volkan Güngören, Deputy Director General of the Ministry’s European Union and Foreign Relations Directorate, underlined the importance of regional collaboration to improving food security in the region and emphasized Turkey’s efforts to strengthen this collaboration through the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme.

Representatives of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas and the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre in Turkey stressed the importance of addressing the challenge of wheat rust diseases in the region and also underscored the need for international collaboration.

Two sessions followed the opening remarks. The first introduced the project, its purposes, components and importance, and presented the Regional Cereal Rust Research Centre in Izmir, Turkey, which is operated jointly by the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and ICARDA. The second session focused on country presentations reporting on the status of wheat rust diseases, and identified capacities and gaps related to their management. Fazıl Düşünceli, Lead Technical Officer of the project, reviewed activities at regional and national levels and presented the project work plan. The meeting ended with an interactive discussion and closing remarks.

About the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programmes

The objectives of the FAO-Turkey 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, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan and other countries of mutual interest.

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

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

14 April 2021, Ankara, Turkey