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Nile Valley and Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program


ICARDA’s regional program for the Nile Valley and Sub-Saharan Africa (NVSSARP) covers all the dry areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Its objectives are to:

  • Meet the research and development demands of countries in the region to further alleviate poverty and improve the well-being of people
  • Help these countries improve water productivity to meet the growing urban, industrial, agriculture, and environmental water demands of the region's growing population 
  • Help these countries improve national agricultural research systems through focused institutional and human capacity development programs.

Developing resistant germplasm

In the Nile Valley and sub-Saharan region, genes resistant to wheat leaf and stem rusts have been identified and incorporated into high-yielding susceptible wheat cultivars. In addition, races of wilt and root-rot diseases in food legume crops have been identified and resistant sources shared between countries. Germplasm tolerant to heat and moisture stress has also been developed.

Improving crop production

NVSSARP develops crop improvement technologies that increase productivity and help farmers cope with climate variability and change. Forty-five improved wheat, barley, faba bean, lentil, and chickpea cultivars have been released to farmers by NARS since 1993, and improved production technology packages have been demonstrated to farmers.

Adoption of improved wheat technologies in Egypt, for example, increased wheat yields by up to 33%, while in Sudan there was an average increase of 46%. Farmers in Ethiopia and Yemen have also started adopting new technologies developed on NARS research stations.

Protecting natural resources

NVSSARP promotes sustainable approaches to agricultural productivity through research, pilot projects, and demonstrations.

This work is undertaken through watershed management, alternative crop rotations, irrigation regimes and crop management options, soil moisture conservation, water harvesting, use of non-conventional water sources such as treated wastewater and marginal water-quality sources, on-farm soil conservation, on-farm moisture and irrigation management, improved water productivity, rangeland rehabilitation, and crop-livestock integration.

Promoting better water management

NVSSARP advocates effective management of the region’s water resources to benefit people and the natural and human environments. The Program strives to protect, conserve, sustain, and enhance the limited water resources for sustainable agricultural production systems.

NVSSARP is proactive and provides internal and external leadership in the management of agricultural production systems, including plant, soil and moisture, and on-farm water management.

Understanding people and their needs

Reaching the poor means obtaining a deep understanding of the nature, causes, intensity, and effects of poverty at the community and household levels, and promoting technical, institutional, and policy options to respond to their needs.

The Program involves end-users in developing research projects, and testing and verifying results, to maximize the relevance of research and the adoption of results by individuals, communities, and institutions.

Frameworks and methodologies for participatory and community-based research are being developed and implemented in partnership with NARS to enhance the impact on rural livelihoods.

Future directions

Improving the productivity of small-scale farmers is one of the key elements of national development strategies to improve food security, reduce poverty, and improve livelihoods through sustainable use of land, water and other resources.

It is expected that increases in small-scale farm production and improvements in farm incomes will also lead to improved livelihoods for rural non-agricultural poor households through spillover effects which stimulate rural economies as a whole.

The intent of the Program is to capitalize on the great achievements that have been realized, such as in the case of Egypt’s improved resource management practices, and extend it to other countries.