KEY IMPACTS IN 2017
improved cereal and legume varieties were released with national partners
tonnes of cereal and legume seeds were disseminated to 38,889 smallholder farmers
Last year we harnessed advances in conventional and molecular breeding to develop highly adapted crops – enhancing climate change adaptation and strengthening food and nutritional security for rural communities.
Advances in crop science make dryland food production systems more efficient – and more resistant to pressures from drought, extremes of cold and heat, unpredictable rainfall, and new pests and disease. Releases of plant genetic materials from ICARDA's genebank, which hosts wild relatives of staple crops like barley, wheat, and legumes, contribute to the development of improved crops that combine high yields, resistance to a range of biotic stresses, and enhanced nutrition.
Last year, 37 improved cereal and legume varieties were released by national programs in partnership with ICARDA, and adopted by farmers worldwide. These climate-resilient crops included higher-yielding, heatand drought-tolerant wheat varieties in sub-Saharan Africa; pest-resistant barley varieties, which support a burgeoning malt beverage sector in Ethiopia; and lowtoxin grasspea varieties that provide a cheap, nutritious, and safe source of food for poor communities in India.
SELECTED ACTIVITIES AND INITIATIVES
Reducing import dependence in Nigeria
The impressive performance of improved varieties of high-yielding, heat-tolerant wheat is convincing Nigerian decision-makers that a viable solution to the country's growing dependence on wheat imports is domestic production. The varieties flourished in the prevailing hot and dry conditions of northern Nigeria, yielding up to 6 tonnes per hectare on farmer fields. Impacts recorded last year revealed a 46–105% increase in farmer incomes; an extension in the country's wheat area, from 50,000 hectares in 2012 to over 100,000 hectares in 2017; and a substantial increase in wheat production, from 70,000 tonnes in 2012 to over 250,000 tonnes last year.
Realizing the climate-smart potential of food legumes
Food legumes offer many advantages for sustainable agriculture. They add nitrogen to soils through a process known as biological nitrogen fixation; they require minimum inputs, which can reduce the costs of production; and they provide an excellent source of nutrients and proteins. In 2017, ICARDA worked with its national partners to develop 14 climate-resilient varieties of chickpea, lentil, and faba bean, and helped distribute them to farmers in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Sudan, Tunisia and Turkey. The result: stable yields, healthier soils, and enhanced food and nutritional security.
Heat-tolerant wheat thrives in the Senegal River Basin
With the financial support of the Swedish Research Council, ICARDA scientists developed heat-tolerant durum wheat cultivars that can withstand temperatures of up to 40°C in the Senegal River Basin. The ICARDA varieties, identified after three years of multilocation testing, also grow fast, which allows farmers to produce wheat during the fallow period between rice cultivation.
When tested, the varieties yielded over 3 tonnes per hectare in just 90 days, and if scaled up, estimates suggest they could yield up to 600,000 tonnes of new food, and an estimated €180 million in additional revenue for smallholder farmers, without affecting rice production. The initiative – "Deployment of Molecular Durum Breeding to the Senegal Basin: Capacity Building to Face Global Warming" – was awarded the 2017 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security.