On 23 November 2022, Three-day Expert Meeting On “Climate Resilient Wheat Crop Improvement for Food Security” with the Special Session on Afghanistan Wheat Issue” was organized by the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) in partnership with the Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the OIC (COMSTECH) and Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in Islamabad, Pakistan at the COMSTECH HQ. The event took place in a hybrid format with the participation of several OIC Member States such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkiye, and Tunisia, as well as scientists from International Organizations such ACSAD, ICARDA, ICBA, CILSS, and CIMMYT. Representatives of different countries were able to share their experience in strategies being used in their homelands to tackle the issues of developing new varieties of wheat and adaptation under changing climate.

The Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS), within its mandate, runs one of the initial Programmes on the Development of Strategic Commodities in the OIC, in which crops of strategic importance, such as wheat, were discussed today. There is an acute need for improvement of yield potential, boosting production of Wheat to meet current and impending challenges for sustainable farming practices. By leveraging cutting-edge crop physiology, genetics, and breeding technologies to facilitate the ability for scientists to collaborate on solutions for the complex problems of heat and drought adaptation, contributing to the development of new, climate-resilient wheat varieties for farmers.

The official session of the meeting was opened by Director General of IOFS H.E. Prof. Yerlan A. Baidaulet, Coordinator General of the COMSTECH H.E. Prof. Iqbal Choudhary, as well as the Chairman of PARC Dr. Muhammad Ghulam Ali.

The Director General of IOFS, in his speech, stated that improving tolerance to these abiotic stresses is a very challenging assignment for wheat researchers, and it requires a strategic and collaborative approach to enable the best scientific teams from across the globe to work together in an integrated program. This expert meeting gives breeders and scientists the opportunity to discuss the major constraints and prospects of wheat cultivation, in relation to possible improved technologies under changing climate that could provide up-to-date and comprehensive information on wheat research.

As a result of the meeting, it was agreed that the Working Group of Experts will be created along with the Action Plan for further development of international cooperation. In addition, within the framework of the IOFS Afghanistan Food Security Program (AFSP), the General Secretariat is determined to implement various projects in which special attention is to be paid to Wheat production in Afghanistan and the enhancement of the capacity of the relevant Research Institute. For more than a decade, local public and private-sector wheat breeding activities have been largely absent in Afghanistan. Wheat productivity remains low as a result of the scarcity of improved varieties, and insufficient seed production and distribution.

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