Search

 

Cablegate: Syria and Ug99 Damaging Wheat Fungus (C-Tn8-00647)

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0376/01 1491028
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281028Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5024
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000376

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA; STATE PLEASE PASS TO USDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR EAGR ECON SY
SUBJECT: SYRIA AND UG99 DAMAGING WHEAT FUNGUS (C-TN8-00647)

REF: A. STATE 38800 B. DAMASCUS 311

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In response to ref A, ICARDA has not confirmed any
reports of Ug99 stem rust in Syria. Should a possible
outbreak occur, ICARDA's staff pathologist is capable of
conducting in-house laboratory analysis to quickly determine
whether the disease is Ug99. Although SARG Agriculture
Ministry contingency plans for Ug99 are unknown, ICARDA
experts believe application of fungicides could control an
outbreak if it is identified early enough. ICARDA's main
contribution to combatting Ug99 comes from identifying lines
and varieties of wheat that are genetically resistant to the
disease, and making these strains available to national
programs throughout north Africa, the Near East and Southwest
Asia. Although Ug99 is not yet present in Syria, persistent
drought conditions, late frosts, and a recent increase in the
price of diesel are contributing to a difficult year for
Syrian wheat and barley farmers. Consequently, the latest
estimate of the 2008 wheat crop projects a yield of only two
million tons -- a decline of 60 percent below average. End
summary.

--------------------------------
No Reports of Stem Rust in Syria
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) According to the Aleppo-based International Center
for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), there
have been no reports of Ug99 stem rust yet in Syria. While
there have been isolated reports of leaf rust and yellow
(stripe) rust, the continuing three-year drought in Syria has
not been conducive to the development of wheat rust and other
foliar diseases.

---------------------------------------------
Unusual Problems for Wheat and Barley Farmers
---------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Even without the presence of Ug99, Syrian wheat and
barley farmers are having a difficult year (ref B). Current
cumulative rainfall to date is just 211mm, down from an
average cumulative rainfall of 319mm since 1978. A warm
winter, coupled with a late spring frost, has exacerbated the
drought conditions and decreased this year's wheat and barley
crop. Furthermore, the SARG's May 3 decision to increase the
price of subsidized diesel (mazout) by 357 percent convinced
many farmers to cease irrigation. Facing higher costs for
irrigation, harvesting, and transportation to market (only to
sell at below-market government-fixed prices), many farmers
are trying to recoup production costs by selling their
irrigated crops for grazing sheep. Normally, Syria produces
4.7 to 4.9 million tons per year (mt/yr) of wheat, while
domestic demand averages four mt/yr. A recent albeit
informal USDA estimate of the 2008 crop projects a yield of
only two million tons -- a decline of 60 percent.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Monitoring Programs and Laboratory Tests for Ug99
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) ICARDA contributes to monitoring and surveillance of
Ug99 through the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), which
was launched in April 2008. ICARDA's staff pathologist is
capable of conducting laboratory examinations of wheat rust
samples at the ICARDA campus to quickly determine whether or
not the disease is Ug99.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Ministry of Agriculture's Plan for Containing Outbreak
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (SBU) Due to the strained bilateral relationship, Post has
no direct communication with the Syrian Ministry of
Agriculture. While ICARDA enjoys better relations with the
Ministry of Agriculture, ICARDA staff are reluctant to
jeopardize this relationship by sharing information about any
SARG plans with Post. Even so, ICARDA experts emphasized
that the extent to which they could control an outbreak by
the rapid application (spraying) of fungicides would depend
on identifying the disease in the early stages of infection.

-------------------------------
ICARDA's Efforts to Combat Ug99
-------------------------------

6. (SBU) ICARDA has been working closely with FAO, USDA, and
other national and international organizations to combat the
spread of Ug99 since the Global Rust Initiative (GRI) was
launched in 2005. ICARDA experts believe the most effective
strategy for controlling the disease is by growing wheat
varieties that are genetically resistant. Consequently,
ICARDA's primary contributions are to identify lines and
varieties of wheat that are genetically resistant to Ug99,
and make these strains available to national programs
throughout north Africa, the Near East and Southwest Asia.
CORBIN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC