New center for grain seed production opens in Uzbekistan

Date: 12.10.2014.

The new National Center for Seed Production of Grain Crops will facilitate adoption of promising wheat varieties like, for example, 'Bunyodkor' and will be an effective mechanism for mainstreaming research results. Photo by Ram Sharma.

A new National Center for Seed Production of Grain Crops has been established by presidential decree in Uzbekistan. According to the decree, the center will operate under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. Dr Zokhid Ziyadullaev, a scientist well known in the country and abroad, has been appointed as head of the center.

This marks growing attention in the country to agricultural research and development and follows the international conference titled 'The Most Important Reserves of Implementing the Food Program in Uzbekistan', which was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in June 2014. It is a logical continuation of efforts aimed at increasing grain production and a major step towards ensuring food security in the country. Some scientists believe this is an important development for a few reasons.

First, it will improve farmers' access to quality grain seed. Given that seed is the most important input, its quality and availability have a major impact on grain production. It is estimated that quality seeds of improved varieties can increase yields by as much as 20-25 per cent. In particular there is a need for increased production of seed of improved wheat varieties, which are tolerant of diseases like yellow rust or very high and low temperatures. For example, Central Asia has seen six outbreaks of yellow rust since 1999, with the most recent one in 2014. As controlling the disease with fungicides is costly, growing yellow-rust-resistant varieties is more efficient. In recent years, several yellow-rust-resistant winter wheat varieties have been identified by research institutions in Uzbekistan in collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP). They include varieties like 'Bunyodkor', 'Gozgon' and 'Yaksart', which also yield more than local wheat varieties, up to 10 tons/ha.

Second, the center will serve as the main link between national and international research institutions and local farmers. Together with their counterparts from international research organizations, national researchers have developed a number of high-quality wheat varieties. As one of the functions of the center is to facilitate adoption of promising varieties, it will be an effective mechanism for mainstreaming research results.

Dr Ram Sharma, of ICARDA, said: "This is yet another milestone in wheat improvement efforts in Uzbekistan. And we feel very optimistic about ICARDA's future cooperation with the center. It will surely contribute to resolving challenges in the agricultural sector, in particular those in seed supply systems."

See also