Cultivating Success in Ethiopia: The contrasting stripe rust situations in 2010 and 2013

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.

Bekele Abeyo
D. Hodson, B. Hundie, G. Woldeab, B. Girma, A. Badebo, Y. Alemayehu, T. Jobe, A. Tegegn, and W. Denbel
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