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ICARDA scientist attends Turkey-Africa agriculture ministers meeting

May 09,2017

Photo credit by AGRINATURA

The First Turkey-Africa Agriculture Ministers Meeting and Agribusiness Forum was held in Antalya, Turkey on 27-28 April. The theme of the meeting was Turkey-Africa partnership on rural development for achieving food security.

Organized by the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, the two-day meeting hosted more than 300 participants, including ministers from 54 African countries. Dr. Mesur Keser, ICARDA Senior Scientist and Country Manager in Turkey, represented ICARDA at the event.             

Eight side events of the meeting were devoted to food security, agribusiness, agricultural inputs and climate change. Dr. Mesur Keser presented ICARDA’s achievements in African region at the food security section.

ICARDA, within CGIAR-led project Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC), introduced heat-tolerant wheat varieties that could withstand temperatures over 38 degrees and demonstrated a yield increase of up to 70% on participating farms. Over 350 farmers were trained through farmers’ field schools, covering all aspects of wheat production, and more than 400 trainees learnt about various components of wheat value chain.

The project, funded by the African Development Bank, reached approximately 7,500 farmers with technological interventions. New varieties have become crucial component of Sudan’s ‘agricultural transformation’ strategy for wheat – farming area devoted to wheat has increased from 300,000 to 500,000 ha in recent years. Once considered not suitable for hot, dry conditions of Sudan, the success of heat-tolerant wheat has changed mindsets, convincing many that wheat has a productive future in the country.

ICARDA-led initiative Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries, launched in 2011 and funded by AFEAD, KFAED, IsDB, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and OFID, has been working with national partners to reverse poor performance of the region’s wheat production. The initiative that spanned across 10 countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen focuses on improving irrigation and water management systems, promoting high-yielding and pest-tolerant seed varieties, conservation agriculture and raised-bed planting.

During the first phase in 2011-2014, average yields across all large-scale demonstration sites increased by 28%, with a maximum growth of 75%. These gains held up during the first and second growing seasons of the initiative’s second phase in 2014-2018, when the average yield increase was also 28%, and the maximum was 59%. Returns on investment have been impressive: an initial investment of US$5.3 million has generated an estimated additional in-pocket gain of US$54.2 million for farmers in Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.

In 2012, in response to calls for regional cooperation on stripe rust monitoring and capacity building on improved crop breeding, ICARDA in partnership with the Aegean Agricultural Research Institute in Izmir, Turkey established the Regional Cereal Rust Research Center. The center has been providing the countries in the region with scientific expertise and services to identify and track wheat rust diseases by analyzing rust samples, identifying specific rust races and their virulence to specific varieties of wheat, screening for resistance and advising wheat varieties in specific agro-climatic conditions.