Research for development (R4D) approaches to minimize the threat of new Pgt races to wheat production in Ethiopia

Recurrent outbreaks of rusts debilitated mega wheat varieties in major production areas in Ethiopia. Projects to accelerate seed multiplication of rust resistant varieties funded by USAID, BMGF and others contributed to the replacement of the widely grown susceptible varieties Kubsa and Galama. In 2013/14, a new Pgt race (TKTTF) - unrelated to Ug99 - caused 100% yield losses on bread wheat variety Digalu. The continuing epidemic calls for fast replacement of the now susceptible varieties by accelerated seed multiplication to scale-up new varieties with durable rust resistance, and demonstrations to promote their adoption. In 2014, CIMMYT initiated a short term R4D project ‘Emergency Seed Support and Demonstration of Rust Resistant Wheat Varieties in Stem Rust Affected Areas of Ethiopia’. The project was financed by USAID and implemented in collaboration with EIAR, regional agricultural research institutes, and the Oromia Bureau of Agriculture. In collaboration with DRRW, CDL, and WSU, technical assistance was given to research centers to phenotype and genotype their breeding lines and commercial cultivars. A total of 352 Development Agents (15% female) were trained in rust identification, seed technology and crop management. Eight rust resistant varieties were demonstrated on 430 model farms in 16 districts in Oromia, Amhara and SNNPR. Awareness was created through field days organized by the Kulumsa and Sinana research centers in Arsi and Bale, respectively. Technical and financial support was given to four federal (Kulumsa, Werer, Debre Zeit, and Holetta) and three regional (Mekele, Sinana, and Adet) research centers for early generation seed multiplication. A total of 2,000 resource-poor farm households (10% female headed) selected on the basis of having suffered heavy losses to stem rust in the previous season, received technical assistance and 165 tonnes of seed of rust resistant varieties. Assisted farmers recorded above average zonal yields in 2014/15.

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