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Iraq Turns to Australian Researchers for Advice on Wheat Disease

Iraq Turns to Australian Researchers for Advice on Wheat Disease

14 September 2012

IRAQ - Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture officers have met with Western Australian researchers to learn more about managing a fungal disease which has devastated wheat crops in Iraq.

The group has undertaken a training programme with the Department of Agriculture and Food in West Australia, focused on tackling rust in wheat.

The visit has been organised by the department’s international consulting arm AGWEST Food Security and the training funded by AusAID.

AGWEST Food Security Manager Mar Hube said the course aimed to assist the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) officers to better understand how to manage the fungal disease.

“Iraq faces a major threat to food production from wheat rust,” Mr Hube said. “New strains of rust and reduced resistance meant that over a third of the 2010 crop was lost.”

Visiting participants are mainly from the MoA Plant Protection Division.

Department research officer Geoff Thomas said the WA plant pathology team had extensive experience in developing and extending integrated crop management for diseases such as cereal rust.

“We have been teaching them about all aspects of integrated disease management from minimising disease pressure, identification of rust diseases, application of fungicides and use of varieties with varying levels of resistance,” Mr Thomas said.

The group has visited crops and trials in the lower Great Southern, Medina, Katanning and Manjimup research stations.

Mr Thomas said WA had managed rust in cereal crops for many years.

“Rust outbreaks are sporadic in WA, depending on conditions over summer and during the growing season,” he said.

“We have the capacity to manage the disease with fungicide to prevent losses of the magnitude reported for Iraq.”

The Iraqi group will travel to Sydney to learn more about the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program attached to the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney.

TheCropSite News Desk

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