Ethiopia’s cool, rainy highlands are perfect for wheat production, as opposed to the hot, dry lowlands, which are unsuitable for wheat cultivation. Ethiopia had previously relied mainly on the highlands for this crop. However, with the recurrent rust disease epidemics, the necessity to expand wheat production to other regions became a priority in order to meet the demand for wheat products such as bread for a growing population.
“With support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Icarda and partners are working together to help the Ethiopian government towards achieving wheat self-sufficiency by 2025. The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) project – launched in 2018 – offers improved, climate-smart, high-grain yielding, better grain quality, water use efficient, and heat-tolerant wheat varieties able to grow on the arid Ethiopian lowlands,” said the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (Icarda) via a statement.
“In February 2020, a high-level delegation from AfDB visited Ethiopia to monitor the TAAT project’s progress and achievements, by interacting with national partners and stakeholders, including farmers, and particularly women and youth. Given reports of the project’s success, the governments of Ethiopia, as well as Sudan, reaffirmed their commitment towards wheat self-sufficiency and the project entered its next phase.”
Two years later, a fresh AfDB high-level group visited Ethiopia’s Eastern Shoa Zone to see irrigated wheat output. Building on the TAAT project’s initiatives and the Ethiopian government’s strong commitment, the country’s wheat output has increased dramatically in the last two years, from 20 000 ha in 2020 to over 500 000 ha.
Even though Ethiopia is now the biggest wheat producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is still room for expansion.
The TAAT project puts the country on track to become self-sufficient in wheat production by 2025, eliminating reliance on costly imports, improving the economy, and creating thousands of employment and business opportunities.
“The TAAT project embodies CGIAR’s, AfDB’s and Ethiopia’s vision of how joint efforts to provide innovative science, climate-smart technology, and local expertise to kick start economies and build resilient rural communities that can adapt to the challenges of an intensifying climate crisis.”