The second meeting of Centre of Excellence for Wheat for Asia Group II made up of scientific research centers from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan was held online on June 24. The meeting was conducted under the theme “Prospects of improvement of wheat in OIC: Asian Group II”.

To recap, the Centre of Excellence was established in 2020 at the A.I. Barayev “Scientific-Production Center for Grain Farming”, under the NAO “National Agrarian scientific-educational center (NASEC), the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The purpose is to bring together national and international expertise in wheat production to increase yields and improve wheat quality.

This session was dedicated to discussion of major biotic and abiotic factors affecting wheat in Asia countries, and the role of breeding and genetic engineering in improving wheat’s stress tolerance and resilience. On day 1, the participants reviewed diseases and pests posing a major threat to yields. The next day each center presented its research and experience of genetic improvement of wheat on a country case basis. The participants were able to observe international approaches to address wheat challenges and difficulties, as well as to increase networking and information exchange with other participants. A preliminary poll of CoE members was conducted to identify the major themes to be addressed and discussed throughout the sessions.

The outcome of the training was to come up with a Task Force on Cooperation and realization of joint activities and initiatives between international organizations such as FAO, CIMMYT, KAUST, ICBA and IOFS/OIC member countries on wheat improvement practices, including collaboration on wheat genetic resources. All participants stated their commitment to continue cooperation and gain knowledge through CoE capacity-building programs carried by IOFS.

Dr Ismail Abdel Hamid, Director of Programs and Projects of IOFS concluded the training that all proposals of participants would be taken into consideration and would turn to the concrete implementation.

The Centres of Excellence were established in the key regions of OIC member states in accordance with the OIC Plan of Action for Development of Strategic Commodities (wheat, rice, cassava, and palm oil). To ensure better communication, and coordination between the Centers, the OIC member countries have been arranged into three geographical groups: Asia Group (AsG) I, Asia Group (AsG)II, and Africa Group (AfG) I.

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