BWMRI scientists develop 2 blast tolerant wheat varieties | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 18, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:01 AM, September 18, 2020

BWMRI scientists develop 2 blast tolerant wheat varieties

National Seed Board has approved the new varieties

Scientists at Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) in Dinajpur have developed two new wheat varieties with built-in blast disease tolerance.  The blast tolerant varieties will raise hope of the farmers across the country.

The wheat blast disease first came in the country in 2016 as a new worry.

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It took the scientists around seven years to develop these two new verities.

Scientists said these newly high yielding varieties named Gom-2 and Gom-3, also tolerable of heat weather and leaf blind, can be produced all over Bangladesh, including the southern part of Bangladesh.

Under the Ministry of Agriculture, National Seed Board has approved the marketing of these two new varieties at its 103rd meeting held in Dhaka on September 8 this year.

Attack of wheat blast was a nightmare for the growers, but now the newly developed blast tolerant varieties would encourage the farmers to bring more land under wheat cultivation, said Dr Israil Hossain, director general (DG) of BWMRI in Dinajpur.

He added that the scientists of the breeding board, agronomists and pathologists of the institute were involved with the entire process.

These two blast tolerant varieties have been developed using the gene of two popular cultivars-- BARI Gom 25 and BARI Gom 26, said Israil.

Besides, Gom 3 has been developed using the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), said the DG, adding that after testing in multiple environments for years in regional and farming level trials, these varieties have been released.

Wheat blast is a fungal disease, which affected 15,000 hectares of the wheat crop land in south and southwestern districts of the country in 2016 for the first time. The following year, the blast disease was also reported in the country. It was a major hindrance for wheat cultivation in blast prone areas.

However, farmers of the southern and southwestern areas were planting blast registrant Gom-33, a Zn enriched variety.

Both the varieties were tested for blast disease reaction under artificial inoculation at the Precision Phenotyping Platform (PPP) at Reginal Station of BWMRI in Jashore.

WMRI Gom-3 has sown consistent resistance against wheat blast for last three years in Bangladesh, added Dr Israil Hossain.    

The DG said the now-defunct WRC (Wheat Research Centre), which transformed into BWMRI located at Nashipur village under Dinajpur Sadar Upazila, developed some wheat varieties had been very popular among the farmers for a long time. These were Kanchan, Shatabdi, Prodip and BARI Gom-26. But eventually, some of the earlier varieties have already been degenerated and became susceptible to various diseases.

Now it is time to replace those old with new one, said the DG.

He also said that the government has a plan to increase the wheat area to ensure food security in parallel with rice production. Newly released Gom-3 is enough to extend the area in the southern Bangladesh.

He said BWMRI has some challenges.

It needed more land and seed storage facilities to produce a sufficient amount of Breeder Seed of wheat, especially for new wheat varieties.

Wheat is the second most important cereal crop in Bangladesh.

Wheat demand is increasing every year in the country. The annual demand for wheat in the country is around 7.00 million tonnes. Around 1,250 lakh tonnes of wheat is produced in Bangladesh while the rest needed to import to meet the demand.

Bangladesh is the fifth most wheat importer in the world.

The newly released varieties are not only early maturing and heat tolerant but also resistant to leaf blight and leaf rust diseases, said the DG.

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