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Enhancing the production of Africa’s strategic crops

Enhancing the production of Africa’s strategic crops

ICARDA’s contributions to an initiative that develops high-yielding, resistant crops across Africa are progressing well, according to recent research outputs, and demonstrate significant potential for the continent’s farmers and the promise of greater self-sufficiency.  Support to Agricultural Research for the Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC), funded by the African Development Bank and implemented by CGIAR Centers (IITA, Africa Rice and ICARDA) in close collaboration with Sub-Saharan African countries, promotes and disseminates new technologies that can raise the productivity of strategic crops: cassava, maize, rice and wheat.


Leading the Wheat Component of SARD-SC, which targets 12 countries across Sub Saharan Africa, ICARDA has recently conducted trials of improved wheat varieties in Nigeria. These have performed extremely well, generating over 5 tons/ha. Four advanced breeding lines were also tested in on-farm demonstrations, realizing yields of over 6 tons/ha. The varieties were subsequently promoted via field days to farmers, researchers, extension officers, and policymakers to support their promotion and uptake.


There has also been progress in East Africa. In Sudan, research teams have conducted yield trials of varieties developed by ICARDA and CIMMYT which have demonstrated tolerance to heat and rust disease. Analysis suggests that Sudanese farmers participating in the initiative have experienced yield advantages of up to 70% over non-participating farmers. Some producers have yielded over 5 tons/ha despite extremely high temperatures. Research efforts have also led to the release of a heat and disease-resistant cultivar – Goumria-3 – that is derived from ICARDA germplasm and is expected to be cultivated widely across Sudan.    


In neighboring Ethiopia, ICARDA-derived germplasm has been utilized to develop high-yielding, heat and salt-tolerant bread wheat varieties which were released earlier this year. Breeder seed of these new varieties has been increased to fast-track their wide demonstration and dissemination to the country’s agro-pastoralists.


Supporting the initiative’s capacity development objectives, ICARDA has also participated in regional workshops that introduce the concept of ‘innovation platforms’ as a framework for driving future strategic crop research and value chain development in participating countries.


In Ethiopia, ICARDA-derived germplasm is being used to develop high-yielding heat and salt-tolerant bread wheat varieties