New Delhi: At a time when the global wheat supply has emerged as an issue of major concern, the wheat crops across the country are facing serious threats from a virulent strain of stem rust called ‘Ug99’.

Alarmed at the potential of the rust to harm global food security, the Agricultural Ministry has asked the scientists to take all possible measures to avert the danger that the country is facing.

In this regard, the scientists have asked the wheat farmers to sow Ug99 resistant wheat varieties as a precautionary measure.

Witnessing the Ug99 fungus as the epidemic for wheat crops, the US- based Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) is working on a global campaign for combating Ug99. Moreover, wheat producing countries like India have joined hands to face the emerging challenges of the fungal attack.

BGRI has set up teams of global agriculture scientists who will monitor the changes and emerging threats of the stem rust.

Meanwhile, the scientists at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have developed several varieties of wheat crops that are immune to Ug99.

Gurbachan Singh, Agriculture Commissioner said “The deadly varieties of fungus have not reached Indian boundaries as of now. But there is no harm in taking precautions.”

“We are asking the farmers to use fungus resistant varieties like HD-2967 and PBW-621”, he added.
Every year, 8.4 crore tonne wheat is produced in the country.  Hence, wheat and rice are the two crops that majorly fulfill the food demand in the country.

Sources said the pathogen which spreads with wind is progressing towards Middle East via Kenya and Ethiopia. Moreover, presence of Ug99 stem rust has been reported in Iran.

According to the sources, the situation is more worrisome as the agricultural scientists fear that the wheat varieties which are resistant to the deadly fungal attack may get prone to the Ug99 fungus.

According to reports, Ug99 was first discovered in Uganda in 1999.The fungus is incredibly deadly and at present there is no complete cure for it.

JPN/Bureau