Kenya’s rust screening facility mitigates world wheat threat
November 23, 2011
Source: Plant Breeding News
Sponsored by GIPB, FAO/AGP and Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics
Many small-scale farmers in Eastern Africa have given up growing wheat because of pressure from Ug99. Kenyans confronted this hunger challenge head-on on September 30 when Hon. Gideon Ndambuki, the assistant minister of agriculture, flipped the switch for a new DRRW-funded irrigation project at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Njoro. The project will provide water for field trials of hundreds of new varieties of high yielding, yellow and stem rust-resistant wheat.
Irrigation improvements included a 1000 cubic meter water tank and sprinkler system that will be used on the 12 hectares of land set aside for screening international wheat germplasm for stem rust resistance as part of the DRRW project.
More than 200 farmers, scientists, industry partners, government officials and schoolchildren attended the field day. The event also celebrated KARI’s participation in the DRRW project, and KARI’s role as one of only two international stem rust screening nurseries.
KARI wheat breeders were particularly excited to showcase fields of two new high-yielding wheat varieties now available to Kenyan farmers—Eagle 10 and Robin. Both varieties come from the CIMMYT spring wheat breeding program, are resistant to yellow rust and Ug99, and showed no signs of infection in the KARI fields.
KARI serves the world’s wheat farmers by screening promising wheat lines for resistance to Ug99.
“So far, we have screened over 200,000 lines of the world’s wheat at Njoro,” said Peter Njau, director of the DRRW project at KARI-Njoro.
This season alone, 27,000 lines from 20 different countries are being tested against Ug99. When found to be superior yielding, they can be directly released as varieties. Nineteen varieties released in eight different countries is a direct outcome of the screening activities in Kenya.
Ravi Singh, distinguished scientist for CIMMYT, who accelerates the wheat breeding cycle through the Mexico-Kenya shuttle program, said, “Now it is in the hands of farmers to adopt the new varieties and promote them in their fields.” CIMMYT’s extensive breeding program in wheat depends on stacking multiple race non-specific minor genes for resistance. This strategy was part of the take-home message to participants at the 2011 Rust Screening Workshop, going on in Njoro, Sept. 26-Oct. 6.
During the field day, Dr. Ephraim A. Mukisira, the director of KARI, said all Kenyans would benefit from public and private extension efforts, and bankers and government policy makers who enable progressive agronomic and market infrastructures.
“Global development partners who work and serve farmers will lead to a new Kenya and a new Africa, one that embraces science and technology," said Dr. Mukisira. "The importance of wheat cannot be underscored enough. This field day has exposed us to the achievements of collaborative partnerships. You have ignited a process that will impact the lives of the rural poor and the entire population of the global community. I am sure that because of this work, next year bread prices will be half the price of today."
More news from:
. Plant Breeding News
. KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Center)
. CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)
Published: November 23, 2011
The news item on this page is copyright by the organization where it originated
Fair use notice