The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has advised the farmers of five southwestern districts not to cultivate wheat as these districts saw the breakout of ‘wheat blast’ disease last year.According to DAE officials, wheat blast was spotted in Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Jhenidah and Jessore last year where many wheat farmers were adversely affected due to the alien disease.
“Farmers are discouraged to cultivate wheat in seven districts of the country, including the five southwester districts, to check any wheat blast outbreak further,” DAE deputy director of Jossore office Emdad Hossain Sheikh told UNB.Claiming that the DAE has already taken various programmes to make the farmers aware of the wheat blast disease, he said there is no alternative to suspension of wheat cultivation to check it.“Even though wheat seeds don’t carry the virus of the disease, it may remain in weeds of the arable land. The disease can break out next year as well. So, farmers are asked to stop wheat cultivation in these districts this year,” he said.Caused by a fungus, wheat blast is one of the most fearsome and intractable wheat diseases first discovered in Brazil in 1985. Later, the disease broke out in many South American countries, including Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.According to official estimates, the blast disease last year affected 15,000 hectares of wheat fields in Jessore, Kushtia, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Jhenidah, Magura, Barisal, and Bhola causing up to 40 percent of crop damage.