Wheat production in the highlands of Eastern Ethiopia: opportunities, challenges and coping strategies of rust diseases

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Taylor & Francis Group - Informa UK Limited
Ethiopia is the primary wheat producer in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) owing to the suitable agro-ecological conditions. Despite wheats economic potential for food security, the actual yield under smallholder farmers conditions is low due to various production constraints. Thus, the objectives of this study were to assess the present wheat production opportunities and constraints and identify farmer-preferred traits to guide variety design with stem rust-resistance and economic traits in eastern Ethiopia. Data on production constraints and trait preferences were collected using structured questionnaires involving 144 wheat-producing farmers. Wheat rust (reported by 97.3% of respondents), small land size (90.4%) and a lack of improved varieties (75.6%) were identified as the major constraints. About 41.7% of respondents in the West-Hararghe and 27.8% in the East-Hararghe zones did not use crop protection strategies to control rusts. Substantial respondent farmers used cultural practices (18.8%), rust-resistant cultivars (13.2%) or, a combination of these (10.4%) to control rust diseases. The essential farmer preferred traits in a wheat variety were rust resistance, high yield potential and good quality grain for bread making. Therefore, there is a need to breed new varieties with high grain yield and quality and durable rust resistance for sustainable wheat production in eastern Ethiopia.
Acknowledgements: The African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) is gratefully acknowledged for the financial support of the study. Thanks go to Haramaya University/Ethiopia for granting a study leave to the first author. The authors are grateful to farmers in the study areas for making this study possible. We acknowledge the Bureau of Agriculture staff at zone and district levels, development agents and graduate assistances of Haramaya University for data collection and research support. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, 2022, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09064710.2021.2022186 . © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Keywords: Farmer-preferred traits; participatory rural appraisal; production constraints; variety development; wheat rust; Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Ethiopia; small-holder farmers.
Mulu Nigus, Hussein Shimelis, IsacK. Mathew & Seltene Abady (2022) Wheat production in the highlands of Eastern Ethiopia: opportunities, challenges and coping strategies of rust diseases, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, 72:1, 563-575, DOI: 10.1080/09064710.2021.2022186