In Ethiopia, quality seed of improved varieties is the least expensive and most critical input for the sustainable production of wheat, a strategic food security crop grown by some 4.7 million households on 1.7 million hectares. Because wheat is self-pollinated, farmers can save and replant seed from their harvests for several years, without the variety losing its genetic identity. At the same time, recommended seed rates for wheat (150 to 200 kilograms per hectare) are significantly higher than those for tef (15 kg/ha) or maize (25 kg/ha), so some 255,000 tons of seed is required to sow Ethiopia's entire wheat area each year. Most of this still comes from informal seed systems; only four seed enterprises (ESE, ASE, OSE and SNNPSE) currently produce certified seed of various crops and they lack the capacity to supply enough high quality seed for the nation's approximately 20 million households. In collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and through the USAID-funded project "Seed multiplication and delivery of high-yielding rust resistant bread and durum wheat varieties to Ethiopian farmers," the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is working to increase wheat farmers access to affordable, certified seed of improved varieties that are high-yielding and also feature durable resistance to the rust diseases. Approaches pursued include the fast-track evaluation and release of improved varieties, the pre-release or accelerated seed multiplication of released wheat varieties through formal and informal seed systems, and demonstrations and scaling up of improved wheat varieties. This paper describes best practices to address seed shortages faced by wheat farmers in 53 woredas.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3
CIMMYT wheat germplasm flow to Ethiopia started in the late 1960s. Over 90 bread wheat varieties were released over the decades. Of these, about 77% had CIMMYT origins or were derived from CIMMYT materials. Wheat is a traditional rainfed crop grown by 5 million small-scale farmers on 1.6 ha more or less. Yields have increased from 1.0 t/ha in the 1960s to 2.54 t/ha in 2014 mainly due to high yielding semi-dwarf bread wheat varieties and modern agronomic practices. Using such technologies, better farmers often get 5-6 t/ha. The rusts are the most important production constraints. For example, the 2010 yellow rust epidemic debilitated the mega varieties Kubsa and Galama in the highlands. In 2013/14, stem rust caused up to 100% yield losses in the widely adopted bread wheat variety Digalu in Arsi and Bale. This epidemic was caused by Pgt race TKTTF, which is virulent to the gene SrTmp that is present in Digalu, but is avirulent to Sr31, which is overcome by race Ug99 (TTKSK) and derivatives. To avert the increasing threat of rusts, CIMMYT developed a shuttle breeding program where germplasm moves back and forth between Mexico and Kenya and has increased nursery testing sites (Holetta, Kulumsa, Debre Zeit, Sinana, Adet, and Melkassa) in Ethiopia from two to six. The germplasm passes through rigorous tests against major diseases during both the main- and off-seasons. To obtain high yielding rust resistant germplasm, many hundreds of genotypes were introduced and tested over the last two years. In 2014/15, 266 (25%) lines with multiple disease resistances and high yield were promoted to national trials. CIMMYT continues to be an important source of germplasm. Fast tracked variety testing and release, accelerated seed multiplication, demonstration and popularization of new varieties with high yield, multiple disease resistance, and acceptable quality will continue.
In 2010, Ethiopia experienced one of the largest stripe rust epidemics in recent history. Over 600,000 ha of wheat were affected, an estimated 60 million Ethiopian Birr ($US3.2 million) were spent on fungicides and large production losses were observed. Factors associated with the 2010 epidemic were conducive climatic conditions (prolonged rain and apparently optimal temperatures), large areas planted to susceptible cultivars, early infection and rapid spread of a virulent pathogen, a low level of awareness, and ineffective control measures. In 2013, highly favourable climatic conditions and early appearance of stripe rust showed remarkable similarity to the conditions observed in 2010, prompting fears of a similar major rust epidemic. However, no stripe rust epidemic developed in 2013. In contrast, only limited and localized outbreaks of stripe rust were observed in 2013; wheat crops remained in good condition and a good harvest was achieved. It seems that a series of positive and timely actions in Ethiopia contributed to the markedly different stripe rust situation in 2013 compared to 2010. The principle factors associated with the positive outcomes in 2013 are (i) effective promotion, plus rapid and widespread adoption of rust resistant wheat cultivars since 2010 - this dramatically reduced the vulnerability of the Ethiopian wheat crop; and (ii) timely and coordinated surveillance efforts, coupled to good information exchange amongst different stakeholders - this resulted in effective control and awareness campaigns that targeted emerging stripe rust outbreaks. A comparative analysis is presented which highlights the similarities and disparities between the 2010 and 2013 stripe rust situations in Ethiopia. The roles and contributions of different organisations are examined and an in-depth analysis of the biophysical conditions in the different years is presented.