The devastating wheat disease UG99 has a new foe in Pakistan. Scientists in that country have developed a wheat stem rust UG99-resistant wheat variety, according to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Food Security and Research in Pakistan.

NARC-2011 has the potential to resist the UG99 virus, said PARC Chairman Iftikhar Ahmad, Ph.D., when briefing the committee.

“Experts say it is only a matter of time before wind carries a deadly wheat stem pathogen into Pakistan, the ninth largest wheat-producing nation in the world. Known as UG99, the disease could potentially decimate the country’s highly vulnerable wheat crop and cause a huge food security problem,” Ahmad told the Daily Times of Pakistan.

UG99 is of particular concern for Pakistan because the disease has been found in Iran. The disease originated in Uganda and has been spreading eastward. It is expected to eventually spread to Pakistan and India, which would devastate huge areas of wheat acres.

For this growing season, PARC has made 72 tonnes of UG99-resistant wheat available. The country expects to continue developing more supply of the resistant seed and the country expects to be able to fully protect itself from the devastating disease.