Government of Canada

Government of Canada
Government of Saskatchewan

Government of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

June 10, 2014 12:00 ET

International Agreement to Focus on Improved Durum Wheat Disease Resistance

Canadian Wheat Alliance and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center will collaborate on improving the yield, sustainability, and profitability of wheat

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwired - June 10, 2014) - The Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA) and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) will collaborate on research to provide farmers in Canada and in developing countries access to stronger, more resistant durum wheat. The joint research builds upon both organizations' programs to improve the yield, sustainability and profitability of wheat.

The research represents an opportunity to improve durum wheat's resistance to diseases of concern to CIMMYT and CWA, while providing economic benefits for Canadian wheat farmers. Researchers will seek to reduce the effects of wheat rust diseases and of Fusarium head blight, a cause of dangerous toxins in grain, by increasing durum wheat's resistance to these global fungal diseases, leveraging the expertise of CWA in wheat genomics approaches and CIMMYT's expertise in field trials.

Quick Facts

  • CIMMYT is a non-profit, research-for-development institution that works through global partnerships to develop and promote improved maize and wheat varieties and cropping systems for developing countries. The Center conserves, studies, and shares one of the world's largest and most diverse maize and wheat seed collections.
  • The Canadian Wheat Alliance represents an unprecedented 11-year commit¬ment among Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan and the National Research Council Canada, to support and advance research that will improve the profitability of Canadian wheat producers.
  • The Canadian Wheat Alliance's six projects focus on reducing crop losses due to drought, heat, cold stress, and disease, while reducing nitrogen fertilizer requirements for the benefit of Canadian farmers.
  • Fusarium head blight has cost Canadian wheat producers more than CAD $1.5 billion in lost income since the mid-1990s. See additional links.
  • During 2001-03, a new strain of leaf rust overcame the resistance of the most widely grown variety in a 250,000-hectare durum wheat cropping area in northwestern Mexico, causing grain losses worth an estimated US $32 million and chemical control costs of over $16 million. A 2004 study showed that CIMMYT's work over a 40-year span to improve the resistance of spring bread wheat to leaf rust generated economic benefits of more than $5 billion. See additional links.


"Our government is pleased to help advance this important wheat research through our investment of $1.5 million. Saskatchewan is the world's leading exporter of durum wheat and the development of disease resistant varieties is important to the continued growth of our industry and to our efforts to help feed a growing global population."

Lyle Stewart, Agriculture Minister, Government of Saskatchewan

"Our collaboration with CIMMYT, one of the world's most reputable organizations in the field of wheat improvement, will allow Canadian wheat farmers to benefit from the Center's world-class and extensive research. This strategic arrangement will help us to achieve the Canadian Wheat Alliance's main objectives of improving the yield, sustainability and profitability of Canada wheat."

Roman Szumski, Chair of the Canadian Wheat Alliance Steering Committee

"The world uses more than 25 million tons of durum wheat each year, either for pasta or as a key food staple and source of livelihoods in North Africa and the Middle East. This collaboration will help to assure sufficient durum wheat production and quality to meet rising global demand."

Hans Braun, Director, CIMMYT's Global Wheat Program

Related Products

- Fact Sheet - Canadian Wheat Alliance

Additional Links

- Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA)

- International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

- Genomics R&D Initiative - Annual performance report 2012-2013

- American Phytopathological Society - Occurrence and Impact of a New Leaf Rust Race on Durum Wheat in Northwestern Mexico from 2001 to 2003

- CIMMYT - The Economic Impact in Developing Countries of Leaf Rust Resistance Breeding in CIMMYT-Related Spring Bread Wheat

Contact Information

  • Media Relations Team
    National Research Council of Canada
    1-855-282-1637 (24/7)
    Twitter: @nrc_cnrc

    Scott Mall
    International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
    +1 404-988-5900 (mobile)

    Angela Hall
    Government of Saskatchewan