Written by Eimel Tadesse
A new breeding program has been launched by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA and the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR). The programme will target five Ethiopian grain crops.
The initiative - ‘Seed System Enhancement through Development of Improved Varieties of Maize, Tef, Sorghum, Soybean and Faba bean in Ethiopia’ - which will run for three years will make a significant contribution to enhance household food security and incomes.
The Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) will invest over US$ 1 million to reach directly and indirectly more than 200,000 smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.
The majority of Ethiopians rely on these key grain crops for their calorie and protein intake, but yields are currently low.
This initiative will help to improve the food security situation through developing and deploying more than 10 improved crop varieties better than varieties on farmers hand and previously released and promoting these among farmers.
The initiative will also build capacity among researchers, extension agents, and public-private seed companies, and enhance the linkages between all the seed value chain players of target crops.
The initiative will be implemented through various EIAR research hubs/centers at Bako, Debre Zeit, Melkasa, Kulumsa and Pawe.
Dr. Adeferis Teklewolde, Crop Research Director at EIAR says: “Ethiopian farmers face a number of constraints, such as drought, diseases and insect pests that, combined together, greatly lower their yields. This initiative will introduce crop varieties that can better withstand these constraints, thereby contributing to improved food security in Ethiopia.”
Joe DeVries, Director for AGRA’s Program for African seed Systems (PASS) which oversees the program, says: “AGRA is pleased to have this opportunity to work with the Ethiopian Government to tackle a key bottleneck to farmers’ productivity. Through this collaboration, 20 tons of breeder and foundation seeds – the basic seed multiplied and sold to farmers – will be availed to seed enterprises annually.”