On April 7, 2021, IOFS conducted the first virtual meeting of Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Asia Group I for Wheat in Turkey to explore modern wheat breeding practices and technologies, and promote international cooperation in the field of wheat research.
The meeting follows the OIC Plan of Action for Development of Strategic Commodities, approved by the Second General Assembly in Jeddah in 2019. This meeting sought to evaluate current state of wheat production in the member states, overview the international practices and cutting-edge research, and discuss improvement and conservation of wheat varieties.
The Center of Excellence for Asia Group I was established in the Field Crops Central Research Institute at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Turkey. Besides Turkey, it comprises Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.
The meeting of Centre of Excellence for Asia Group I for Wheat was opened by the keynote address of H. E. Ambassador Askar Musinov, Assistant to the OIC Secretary General for Science and Technology. He expressed his confidence that the platform of Centre of Excellence would be invaluable for the ongoing work of OIC to support the sustainable development of agriculture. To ensure success of CoE, he proposed to create a concrete action plan and a roadmap.
Dr. Ismail Abdelhamid spoke on behalf of Director-General of IOFS of the high expectations the IOFS has for the wheat development as it may be crucial for achieving global targets of hunger eradication.
H.E. Dr Nevzat Birişik, Director-General of the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies (TAGEM) stated that Turkey is one of the biggest partners in programs on breeding and development of wheat worldwide, and is honored to host this important event.
H.E. Mr Ahmet Volkan Güngören, Deputy-Director of the Directorate General for the European Union and Foreign Relations (DG for EUFR), and a member of the Executive Board of IOFS expressed hope that the meeting would strengthen cooperation in the Islamic world.
The technical session began with analyzing the current state of wheat production and scientific approach towards wheat development in the member states.
Dr Shahlo Atabaeva, Programme Manager of IOFS started the session by briefly overviewing the wheat production and its future prospects in the OIC countries.
Dr Ayten Salantur, Director-General of Field Crops Central Research Institute provided Turkey’s perspective on modern wheat breeding practices and technologies.
Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) presented different aspects of the wheat crop production and development in Pakistan.
Dr Md. Abu Zaman Sarker, Director of Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) addressed the improvement of wheat in Bangladesh and its current issues and prospects.
Mr. Timur Savin, International Expert from the National Agrarian Research and Education Center of Kazakhstan (NASEC) presented the research work of the institution and its research methods.
Ms. Sevinj Mammadova, the Associate Professor of Research Institute of Crop Husbandry of Azerbaijan delivered a presentation on the current state of wheat breeding in Azerbaijan.
The second session was dedicated to the discussion of the international practices and innovative research in the development of wheat.
Dr. Mesut KESER, the Country Manager at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) shared the center’s wheat research and the processes of developing the germplasm, and how they impact the livelihoods of rural communities.
Mrs. Beyhan Akin from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) showed the impact of CIMMYT’s work around the world.
Dr Mohamad Shahid from the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) covered the history of botanical explorations and cultivation of wheat landraces in the UAE.
The last presentation was delivered by Mr Kassym Mukanov, Deputy Director-General of the National Center of Biotechnology of Kazakhstan (NCB); he shared the center’s activities in biotechnology and research on wheat varieties in Kazakhstan.
Following the discussions, Dr. Ismail Abdel Hamid, Director of Programmes and Projects of IOFS concluded the event and compiled recommendations from the participating institutions on further work.
The meeting was attended by the representatives of the ministries of agriculture and research centers of the OIC member countries, the OIC institutions, and international organizations.