Over the past four decades, country partners in Asia, Africa, and beyond, have evaluated and distributed ICARDA’s enhanced grain and legume varieties. Farmers have accepted our new varieties, resulting in yearly net benefits of over US$850 million. In 2021, fourteen wheat, six chickpea, three lentil varieties, as well as one variety of each barley and faba bean were released in partnership with National Agriculture Research Systems (NARS) collaborators in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Morocco, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.
Through the Modernization of ICARDA Breeding Programs project, supported by the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) and CGIAR’s Crops to End Hunger platform, new speed breeding protocols were developed for all ICARDA-mandated crops. Through these protocols, four generations can be achieved in just one year while maintaining ICARDA’s capacity to screen for the most prevalent diseases in the region, as well as for high end-use quality.
In addition, more than 4,000 entries of wheat and barley were genotyped in 2021. This will improve the capacity of breeding programs to select the best germplasm to be shared with NARS.
New big data management and analysis tools have also been developed to automatically store, curate, and analyze the field data produced by the breeding programs.
The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) project, implemented by ICARDA and funded by the African Development Bank, continued to scale-up heat-tolerant wheat varieties and support national wheat self-sufficiency agendas to reduce import dependence – especially relevant in today’s food crisis environment. Policy advocacy, road maps for deploying agricultural innovations, and multi-stakeholder platforms contributed to productivity increases and an expansion of wheat production areas. Success stories were captured in a high-level virtual dialogue, and a short TAAT documentary beat over 3,700 nominations to win best documentary at the 2021 Stevie International Business Awards.
ICARDA’s durum and bread wheat breeding efforts employ wild relatives extensively to generate elite germplasm that is well-suited to the severe and frequent droughts that plague the organization’s drylands.
Our elite food legume lines are available to National Agricultural Research System partners through ICARDA’s international nurseries. ICARDA’s food legumes team is also working alongside other CGIAR centers to develop the One CGIAR initiatives that seek to unify efforts in crop improvement globally and across CWANA.
Barley promotes food and feed security by increasing animal and crop output per unit area and providing food, feed, forage, and malt. It is the ultimate multipurpose crop in the Middle East and North Africa’s drylands, with 3.3 million hectares planted primarily in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
ICARDA works across the Arabian Peninsula to improve date palm, an essential crop for the region, which produces 90 percent of the world’s dates.
ICARDA releases improved cereal and legume varieties that farmers prefer because of their adaptation and agronomic traits, and by industry and consumers, because of their grain quality traits.