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Where We Work

Where We Work

Egypt

Wheat production in Egypt faces an uncertain future. The country is already dealing with the negative impacts of climate change, particularly higher temperatures and increasing water scarcity, which threaten its ability to meet growing domestic demand for wheat. The UN predicts that this emerging climate scenario could bring an 8-47 percent fall in agricultural productivity and a 39 percent decrease in employment.

From 2010 to 2014, The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative worked with farmers in Al-Sharkia, a populous governorate home to some 6 million people in the country’s northern region. The area is the most significant wheat-growing region in the country, but generates grain yields that are 5 percent below the national average.

The initiative is working here to promote better-yielding wheat varieties characterized by high yield potential and rust resistance, alongside new technologies and agronomic practices to improve water and land productivity.

A major success has been the introduction of raised-bed planting - a practical surface irrigation technique that involves planting crops on wide ridges and applying irrigation water in furrows, helping to improve water use efficiency, raise yields, and increase farmer profitability.

Dissemination strategy

Proven technologies and practices are disseminated via a ‘mass dissemination’ approach, which involves at any given site or village, the highest possible number of demonstration plots in farmers’ fields to cover different areas, soil types, and water management systems. Demonstration plots are closely supervised by a team of researchers and extension agents.

Capacity strengthening

Capacity strengthening efforts target farmers, technicians, scientists and policymakers. Knowledge and expertise are shared through field days, farmer field schools, traveling workshops, and training and symposia. Over the past four years 15,954 beneficiaries have been reached: 10,676 farmers, 4085 technicians/extensionists, 995 scientists and researchers, and 198 policy makers.

Major impacts in Egypt during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • Successive increases in productivity over recent growing seasons: 29 percent in 2010/11, 22 percent in 2011/12, 24.6 percent in 2012/13, and 22 percent in 2013/14.
  • By the fourth growing season (2013/14), participating farmers achieved a 189 percent increase in net profits over neighboring farmers.
  • The introduction of raised-bed planting achieved extremely positive results: average irrigation water savings of 25 percent; an average 30 percent increase in grain yield; an average 73 percent increase in water use efficiency; an average 30-50 percent saving in the quantity of seed used; and a 31-fold increase in the area of raised-bed sown wheat.
  • Significant increases in Al-Sharkia’s wheat production: the total amount of wheat sold to the Ministry of Supply has increased from 557,030 tons to 880,941 tons over the past four years, an increase of 58 percent.

These impacts have prompted the national government to apply the initiative’s approach in a national effort aimed at increasing Egypt’s wheat production and closing the widening gap between production and consumption. This national wheat campaign has now established 1990 demonstration sites across 22 governorates.  

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Morocco

Wheat is a strategic crop in Morocco – with a consumption of 210 kg per capita. However, yields tend to be low and national production covers less than 70 percent of consumer demand. In rainfed areas, increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns present a significant production constraint.

During its first phase, the ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative aimed to enhance wheat productivity in two different sites: the Chaouia region, representing a rainfed wheat production system; and the Tadla region, representing a supplemental irrigation system.

Efforts targeted improved crop and water management techniques to achieve better water productivity: rotation with food legumes such as faba bean and chickpea; high-yielding, disease- and pest-resistant wheat varieties; Conservation agriculture; and deficit irrigation.

Dissemination strategy:

In Morocco, the initiative has adopted a ‘satellite’ or ‘clustered’ approach to the dissemination of improved technologies and practices. This involves first introducing innovations on the farms of ‘progressive’ farmers – those receptive to new practices and technologies – and then establishing satellite farmers around these platforms who are coached through direct technical advice provided during farmer field schools, and by the project’s extension and research staff.

Capacity strengthening:

Extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country workshops and trainings were organized. During the initiative’s first phase 2807 beneficiaries were reached, including 2094 farmers, 429 extension agents, 186 scientists/researchers, and 15 policy makers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • The introduction of Conservative Agriculture generated an average 19 percent increase in wheat yields, and by reducing production costs, increased net economic benefits by approximately 122 percent. Five farmers’ associations dedicated to the use and promotion of Conservation Agriculture were subsequently established in Chaouia.
  • Deficit irrigation saved one-third of irrigation water with little or no impact on wheat yields.
  • Drip irrigation achieved a Water Use Efficiency (WUE) – the amount of crop produced per m3 of water – of 1.3 kg/m3. This surpassed the measurements for basin (1.05 Kg/m3) and raised-bed (0.93 Kg/m3) irrigation systems. Farmers adopting the technology also experienced significant gains: those producing improved seed increased their water productivity by 63 percent and achieved water savings of 567 m3 per hectare (m3/ha), and common wheat producers achieved even more impressive results, saving 720 m3/ha.
  • Improved high-yielding, disease- and pest-resistant wheat varieties were tested, with several generating yields that exceeded 7 tons per hectare (t/ha). In project areas, 100 percent of participating farmers adopted the varieties, which are now being sown on 82 percent of the total wheat area in project sites.
  • The profitability analysis performed in the project sites showed that the total revenue per hectare of wheat cultivated using the improved production package was higher than that cultivated using traditional farmers’ practices. The percent increase in net profit per ha was more than 100%.

Tunisia

The annual demand for wheat in Tunisia is estimated to be three million tons, yet domestic production is unable to meet this need. Wheat yields are generally very low – usually below 1.3 tons per hectare (t/ha) – and fluctuate considerably. However, yields are generally much higher under research-station conditions, suggesting that with the application of appropriate technologies, farmers can raise their productivity.

The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative aimed during its first phase to increase Tunisia’s wheat production through the development and dissemination of improved varieties, conservation cropping systems, improved agronomic practices, and the more efficient use of the country’s scarce water resources.

In specific terms this could mean supplemental and drip irrigation systems, wheat-based rotation systems with food legumes, the use of line seeders to enhance seed planting, and decision tools to enhance the application of irrigation water. Activities were implemented in Fernana and Chebika, representing respectively, rainfed and supplemental irrigation systems.

Dissemination strategy:

In Tunisia, the initiative has adopted a ‘leading’ or ‘satellite‘ approach to facilitate the dissemination of improved technologies and practices. This involves first introducing innovations on the farms of ‘progressive’ farmers – those receptive to new practices and technologies – and then establishing satellite farmers around these platforms who are coached through secondary demonstration plots. Direct technical advice is provided during farmer field schools, and by the project’s extension and research staff. This approach is further strengthened by the adoption of Short Messaging Service (SMS) technologies, an efficient and innovative dissemination tool to increase technology adoption and improve access to technical knowledge among farmers and extension agents.

Capacity strengthening:

Extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country workshops, and trainings were organized. The total number of beneficiaries reached was 7982 – including 6570 farmers, 1089 technicians/extension agents, 244 scientists/researchers, and 65 policymakers.

Impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • The use of a line seeder increased seed germination by 17 percent, generating a 12 percent increase in grain yield compared to manual seeding.
  • Wheat sown under Conservation Agriculture generated 2.89 tons – a yield increase of 17 percent over conventional practices.
  • Water Use Efficiency (WUE) – the amount of crop per m3 of water – was 1.4 kg/m3 and 1.26 kg/m3 for drip irrigation systems with 50 and 100 cm spacing between lines, exceeding those recorded for sprinkler systems on farmer lands.
  • Under sub-humid conditions, the promotion of the Nasr wheat variety provided a cost-effective and sustainable opportunity to efficiently control Septoria tritici, particularly for resource-poor farmers.
  • In 2013/14 drip irrigation generated impressive yields of 6.57 tons per hectare (t/ha), a 23 percent increase compared to sprinkler systems.
  • On-farm WUE under irrigation scheduling (water balance method) increased by 39 percent, contributing to a 31 percent increase in grain yield compared to farmers’ practices.
  • The adoption of the integrated fertilizer management approach contributed to a 28 percent and 34 percent increase in grain yield, respectively, for the wheat varieties Chebika and Fernana.
  • Under sub-humid conditions, the adoption of the wheat variety Maali, alongside a recommended technological package, brought a 23 percent increase in grain yield compared to farmers’ practices.
  • Under supplemental irrigation conditions, using the new high yielding wheat variety Maali and a recommended technological package, grain yields were raised by 29 percent compared to farmers’ practices.
  • Under rainfed conditions, over three consecutive growing seasons, the wheat variety Maali yielded 1760 tons, worth approximately 615,000 USD. Under supplemental irrigation, the wheat production of this same variety yielded 3496 tons, worth an estimated 1,221,449 USD.
  • The adoption of the high yielding legume variety Badii with a recommended technological package generated a 41 percent increase in grain yield, compared to conventional practices.
  • Farmer associations were established at Essanabel in Chebika and El-Aman in Fernana, in order to ensure the sustainability of the technology transfer system.

 

 

Yemen

Wheat is a major food crop in Yemen – second only to sorghum in terms of cultivated area and yield. The crop is cultivated under both rainfed and irrigated conditions across several growing seasons.

Despite its importance, average yields generated in farmer fields are low – approximately 1.5 tons per hectare (t/ha) – and the country has no real established marketing channels to ensure that wheat can be sold at a reasonable price. Consequently, farmers tend to reduce the area of wheat cultivation to meet household consumption only, with little attention to marketing possibilities.

The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative targeted during its first phase six villages in the country’s Jahran District. Innovations include: improved varieties, optimum seeding rates, well-reasoned fertilizer application, and better irrigation management, including the introduction of drip irrigation.

Dissemination strategy:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a limited number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days, and traveling workshops are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. Some 2277 beneficiaries were reached during the initiative’s first phase – including 1438 farmers, 342 technicians/extension agents, 435 researchers/scientists, and 35 policymakers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • The adoption of the new varieties Bohoth 13 and Saba’a led to yield increases of 50 percent over conventional varieties. Another variety, Bohoth 3, has demonstrated an even greater potential under farmer conditions.
  •  The total average revenue from wheat grain and straw reached 580,000 YR/ha.
  • Results obtained in 2013/14 showed the clear advantages of a shift to drip irrigation: WUE almost doubled compared to surface irrigation and wheat yields were 18 percent higher.

Jordan

Wheat production in Jordan is limited, subject to recurrent drought, and tends to generate yields that are low and fluctuating. This situation could worsen over the coming decades as climate change brings higher temperatures and increasing water scarcity – the country is already the fourth driest on earth.

Despite these constraints, research demonstrates that the introduction of improved wheat, alongside new technologies and proven agronomic practices, could revitalize Jordan’s wheat sector. Innovations include high-yielding varieties of wheat and Conservation Agriculture (CA) – the practice of not plowing farmlands and leaving crop residue in the field for improved soil fertility and water conservation

The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative is targeting smallholder farmers in Irbid, a governorate located in Jordan’s far north.

Dissemination strategy:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a limited number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days and traveling workshops are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. In total 3169 beneficiaries were reached during the initiative’s first phase – including 2196 farmers, 432 technicians/extensionsists, 452 scientists/researchers, and 25 policy makers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • By adopting improved packages of improved cultivars and farming practices, participating farmers have seen their grain yields achieve 3.55 tons/ha, an increase of 28 percent – despite harsh rainfed conditions.
  • Results demonstrated that CA is an economically-viable practice for increasing and stabilizing yields. Participating farmers using CA experienced average wheat yields that were 16 percent higher than those achieved under conventional practices, generating net returns of 296 USD per hectare (USD/ha).
  • Overall, improved wheat varieties raised yields by 10-12 percent, generating produce worth an estimated 207,000 USD in 2012/13, and 164,000 USD in 2013/14. Several wheat lines exceeded the grain yield of the local check, Hourani, by up to 25 percent.
  • Some 20.7 tons of improved variety seed were distributed to 116 farmers, and preliminary data has shown that 39 percent distributed or sold a portion of their seeds to neighboring farmers.

Algeria

Algeria’s wheat-producing areas suffer from a range of production constraints, including terminal drought, intense heat, yellow rust, late spring frost and a range of diseases and pests. The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative is working in three main sites in Algeria: Constantine in the plains region, Oued Smar in the littoral region, and Setif in the high plateaus region.

The initiative is raising wheat production through the introduction of improved wheat varieties and a package of recommended technologies and agronomic practices.

Dissemination strategy:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a limited number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days and traveling workshops are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies in Algeria.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. A total number of 613 beneficiaries were reached – included 323 farmers, 129 technicians/extensionists, 85 scientists/researchers, and 42 policy makers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • Under rainfed conditions, yield levels for promising bread and durum wheat lines exceeded 6 tons per hectare (6 t/ha).
  • Four bread and 4 durum wheat lines were also released over the past three years, and as a result of a nationwide effort to boost wheat production, improved varieties now cover 10 percent of the country’s wheat producing area.

 

 

Iraq

Wheat yields in Iraq, overwhelmingly grown in rainfed conditions, fluctuate widely. Farmers have to contend with several production constraints: the excessive cost of equipment and machines for land preparation, harvest, and inputs such as fertilizer, seeds, and herbicides; poor harvest operations and labor availability; and a range of biotic and abiotic stresses – including weed infestation, disease, insects, salinity, and extreme temperatures.

The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative is working in the following areas: Al-Mosul which represents the rainfed system, and Al-Diwanya in Qadislya Province, where irrigated production systems are tested.

The initiative is attempting to raise wheat yields through improved high-yielding wheat varieties and production packages.

Dissemination strategy:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a limited number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days and traveling workshops are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. In total, 965 beneficiaries were reached – including 634 farmers, 165 technicians/extensionists, 113 scientists/researchers, and 43 policy makers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • Several promising wheat lines were tested in advanced yield trials under irrigated conditions, generating 6-7 t/ha.
  • Several new wheat varieties are being considered for release. One improved variety promoted by the initiative – Bohouth 22 – is now being disseminated by the Iraqi government to all extension centers for distribution at the farmer level.

Palestine

Wheat farmers in Palestine have to contend with extremely dry conditions and variable rainfall, which generate low yields. The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative aims to raise productivity through the introduction of improved wheat varieties, enhanced seed systems, and improved agronomic practices – including conservation cropping. Palestine joined the project as a full active country during the 2013/14 season.

Dissemination:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a limited number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days and traveling workshops are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. In total, 747 beneficiaries were reached – including 442 farmers, 132 technicians/extensionists, 55 scientists/researchers, and 10 policy makers.

Major impacts of the initiative (since 2013/14):

  • Despite prevailing drought in 2013/14 the introduction of CA brought a 5 percent and 8 percent increase in wheat straw and grain yield.
  • Improved durum wheat varieties generated yields that were 13-25 percent higher than the preferred local variety, Anbar.
  • Two seed producer groups were established in Tubas and Jenin, as a means of raising production volumes, increasing profits through joint marketing, and enhancing technical feasibility. In total, 3.5 tons of high quality seed were distributed to 29 farmers from Tubas and Jenin.

Syria

Wheat yields in the initiative’s project site – located to the north-east of Aleppo in northern Syria - are low to average and often constrained by prolonged drought and low and variable rainfall. Yet, research suggests that yields can be substantially improved through the promotion of improved varieties and innovative agronomic practices such as Conservation Agriculture.

Dissemination strategy:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days and traveling workshops and symposia are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. Some 2689 beneficiaries were reached by the initiative’s capacity strengthening program – including 1150 farmers, 741 technicians/extension agents, 706 scientists/researchers, and 38 policy makers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • Higher wheat yields were achieved under conservation agriculture compared to conventional practices. Yield increases varied across years from 11-33 percent with an overall mean of 16 percent.
  • Average net profits of 110, 219 and 167 USD/ha were calculated for rainfed, supplemental irrigation and conservation agriculture conditions, respectively.
  • Ninety percent of farmers who benefited from the distribution of improved seed used the seed on their own plots, and 60 percent distributed the seed or sold part of the seed to their neighbors.
  • ​It is estimated that if improved packages are applied across 30,000 ha of rainfed areas and 10,000 ha of irrigated areas, profits generated would total an estimated 2,648,000 USD and 1,742,000 USD, respectively.   

Sudan

Wheat production in Sudan is characterized by wide variations from season to season, and from one wheat-producing area to another. Currently, the country only produces 30 percent of the wheat it consumes, and relies on some 1.5 million tons of wheat each year, exposing its population to the vagaries of global commodity markets.

The yield gaps that exist between farmer fields and research sites are attributed to the inability of farmers to acquire improved production technologies – at the right time and in the right quantity. Production can therefore be substantially improved through improving land use, appropriate technology, securing appropriate inputs, and improving marketing systems.

The ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative is disseminating new technologies to selected farmers in two sites: Northern States, the traditional wheat-growing area of Sudan where the winter season is comparatively cooler and longer; and Gezira, just to the south-east of Khartoum, where irrigated conditions are more prevalent.

Dissemination strategy:

The initiative’s dissemination strategy involves a classical model of technology transfer – implementing a limited number of demonstration plots conducted under farmer conditions and distributed randomly across a given area or site. Farmer field schools, field days and traveling workshops are the main tools used to disseminate and popularize the improved technologies.

Capacity strengthening:

During each growing season, extensive meetings, field days, farmer field schools, in-country training workshops, and training and symposia were organized. In total 6147 beneficiaries were reached – including 4532 farmers, 618 technicians/extensionists, 520 scientists/researchers, and 189 policymakers.

Major impacts during the initiative’s first phase (2010-2014):

  • The introduction of drip irrigation achieved Water Use Efficiency (WUE) – the amount of crop per m3 of water – of 2.03 Kg/m3, compared to 1.73 and 1.80 kg/m3 for sprinkler and surface irrigation systems.
  • Land devoted to the cultivation of improved varieties grew considerably during the initiative’s first phase. The heat-tolerant variety Imam, for instance, was adopted on 1418 ha in 2013/14 and 420 ha in 2012/13 – a significant increase from 20 ha in 2011/12.
  • Estimates suggest that if the total area devoted to the production of improved varieties is managed according to best practices, an additional 110,500 tons of wheat could be produced, valued at over 56,100,000 USD.
  • Raised-bed planting increased wheat yields by an average 15 percent.