This project tests, validates and disseminates proven innovations to assist wheat and food legume farmers in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), helping to stabilize production and strengthen food security against a backdrop of increasing climate variability. Using participating WANA countries as a platform, the initiative will extend successes to other regions as international public goods.
Wheat and food legumes are staple foods across the region, providing a valuable source of protein, particularly among the poorer sections of society. Increasing the area grown to food legumes in wheat-based production systems also generates other production-related benefits: it fixes atmospheric nitrogen and enhances the amount of phosphorous in soil; causes a disease cycle-break; and improves total factor productivity.
However, recent experiences have demonstrated that most countries cannot meet their food demands from domestic production and are forced to rely on expensive imports – the region is the most import-dependent in the developing world, making its population highly vulnerable to rising food prices.
Recent food crises have showed that productivity gains in many developing countries, particularly those in dry areas, have slowed. To avert future food crises and regional food insecurity, project scientists are extending technology packages to farmers in order to boost domestic production. These will combine high-yielding varieties of wheat and food legumes that are resistant to a range of stresses, production technologies, and proven crop and soil management strategies, such as integrated pest management and supplemental irrigation.
Ultimately, the extension of these technologies will increase productivity, enhance farmer incomes, and help farming communities cope with climatic instability and future production shocks.