Ethio-Pasta: rolling out resilient durum wheat

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Since 2009, the Seeds for Needs initiative has focused on sustainably promoting use and conservation of indigenous crop diversity. Smallholder farmers equipped with better information and access to a portfolio of adapted crops can improve their productivity, enhance nutrition and increase resilience to climate change.

The path to develop durum wheat value chains

Durum wheat is a valuable commodity crop in Ethiopia that consists of thousands of different genotypes. Over the last 14 years, the Alliance has carried out a series of activities to improve the productivity of durum wheat varieties, farmers’ access to selected and superior varieties, and strengthen the overall value chain.

1. Characterization

Researchers first acquired and characterized a large diversity of farmers’ varieties to understand the existing genetic diversity of Ethiopian durum wheat, they used a participatory approach to involve farmers in identifying their preferred varieties. By using state-of-the-art genomic science, and massive phenotypic data, it was discovered that Ethiopian durum wheat is highly diverse and distinct from the Mediterranean types. This discovery presents an opportunity to develop unique varieties and products. More than 50 superior varieties were identified and disseminated to over 100,000 households in the Amhara, Oromia, South and Tigray regions of Ethiopia through a crowdsourcing approach. Two varieties, Rigeat and Wehabit, were nationally registered and released for production based on selected farmers’ varieties.

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