Egypt and US cooperate to protect Afghanistan’s wheat

The governments of the US, Egypt and Afghanistan governments will tomorrow celebrate the signing of a cooperation agreement that seeks to protect the livelihoods of farmers in Afghanistan.

According to a statement from the US Embassy in Cairo, the three states will celebrate the agreement, according to which a disease-resistant strain of wheat will be provided to Afghan farmers to improve their wheat production.

The celebration, held at the Agricultural Research Center (ARC) in Cairo, will be attended by the US Ambassador to Egypt, the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture, and the chargé d'affaires of the Afghan Embassy in Cairo, and it will be followed by a press conference.

The agreement represents an effort to combat Ug99–a strain of a deadly wheat pathogen known as stem rust, which is capable of killing an entire crop of wheat within a few days. The reddish-brown, wind-borne Ug99 fungus was first detected in Uganda in 1999 and has since spread to other countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The US Agriculture Ministry, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, and several researchers from around the world, including Egypt, have worked together to develop new strains of wheat capable of resisting the pathogen.

Egypt was one of the first countries to develop and double the productivity of a strain of wheat that resists the Ug99 pathogen. That strain was given the name Misr1, and successfully grown in Afghanistan last year.

According to the cooperation agreement, Egypt’s ARC has developed 150 tons of Misr1 and the US Agriculture Ministry has paid the costs of purchasing the wheat. The Pentagon has covered the cost of delivering it into Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's Agriculture Ministry will use the seeds in a program supervised by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization to help produce 3000 tons of the new strain, which will after one year be sold to Afghan farmers, helping to protect around three quarters of Afghanistan’s wheat produce.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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