The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping efforts to strengthen Pakistan’s wheat-rust surveillance efforts by collaborating with the national and international research agencies to protect and enhance wheat productivity in South Asia’s second biggest economy.
Wheat is a staple food in the country of over 200 million people and accounts for 60 percent of the daily caloric intake of the average Pakistani. Wheat production in the country varies from year to year, depending upon the availability of water and national calamity such as floods. Pakistan over the years has produced on average between 22 and 23 million tons of wheat a year, the same as its consumption level.
To achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production, Pakistan must find ways to protect the crop from rust and other diseases. The National Agriculture Research Center is constantly engaged in research and is working with international agencies to adopt best practices to safeguard the crop from diseases.
This month the NARC hosted a two-day Wheat Productivity Enhancement Program Meeting. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dr. David Marshall is the WPEP Research Leader.
WPEP is an international collaboration with a consortium of Pakistani government and university research facilities, USDA, the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement and the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas. Its goal is to protect and enhance wheat productivity with particular attention to wheat rusts.
Rusts diseases have been reported in Pakistan in the past have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in crop losses during the past 50 years. As the wheat-rust epidemic could seriously threaten Pakistan’s food security, USDA is supporting to strengthen Pakistan’s wheat-rust surveillance efforts, a statement posted on the US embassy’s website in Pakistan said.
USDA is supporting Pakistani institutions to increase the availability of new varieties and to work toward a safe and secure food system in Pakistan.