Boosting wheat production in Africa to stem costly imports

Leading the "Support to Agricultural Research for Development on Strategic Commodities in Africa" (SARD-SC) wheat project ICARDA operationalized 3 hubs and 15 innovation platforms in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sudan during 2014.

Through this project, wheat production in sub-Saharan Africa has a bright future, according to project leader, Dr. Solomon Gizaw Assefa, wheat commodity specialist of ICARDA. New heat-tolerant wheat varieties in Nigeria and Sudan produced yields of 4-6 t/ha (tons per hectare), 1-2 t/ha more than the average of traditional varieties.

The increase in yields has generated a positive policy shift for wheat In Nigeria. In 2014, wheat became a priority and high wheat yields became a solution to the countries urgent need for wheat imports, by instead increasing domestic production. This policy shift will benefit national food security and save over US $4 billion on wheat imports each year. In addition, the Government of Nigeria has launched a national target to scale-up best practices, expand wheat area from the existing 70,000 ha to 340,000 ha and reduce wheat importation by 45 percent in the coming five years.

Likewise, based on the high yield realized by wheat farmers participating in the six project innovation platform (IP) sites in Sudan, the Sudan Government announced intentions to scale up the IP approach through the national extension program, expanding the country’s wheat area from the present 137,000 ha to 340,000 ha in 2015/16 and boosting domestic production to reduce costly imports.

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