Tidiane Sall, A.; Chiari, T.; Legesse, W.; Seid-Ahmed, K.; Ortiz, R.; van Ginkel, M.; Bassi, F.M. Durum Wheat (Triticum durum Desf.): Origin, Cultivation and Potential Expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agronomy2019, 9, 263.
Tidiane Sall, A.; Chiari, T.; Legesse, W.; Seid-Ahmed, K.; Ortiz, R.; van Ginkel, M.; Bassi, F.M. Durum Wheat (Triticum durum Desf.): Origin, Cultivation and Potential Expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agronomy 2019, 9, 263.
Durum wheat is an important food crop in the world and an endemic species of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In the highlands of Ethiopia and the oases of the South Sahara this crop has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, smallholder farmers still cultivate it on marginal lands to assure production for their self-consumption. However, durum wheat is no longer just a staple crop for food security but it has become a major cash crop. In fact, the pasta and couscous industry currently purchase durum grain at prices 10 to 20% higher than bread wheat. Africa as a whole imports over € 4 billion per year of durum grain to provide the raw material for its food industry. Hence, African farmers could obtain a substantial share of this large market by turning their production to this crop. Here, the achievements of the durum breeding program of Ethiopia are revised to reveal a steep acceleration in variety release and adoption in the last decade. Furthermore, the variety release for Mauritania and Senegal is described to show how modern breeding methods could be used to deliver grain yields above 3 t ha-1 in seasons of just 92 days of length and daytime temperatures always above 32°C. This review describes the ability of releasing durum wheat varieties adapted to all growing conditions of SSA, from the oases of the Sahara to the highlands of Ethiopia. This potential area of expansion for durum wheat production in SSA is not linked to any breeding technology, but rather it remains dependent on the market ability to purchase these grains at a higher price to stimulate farmer adoption. The critical importance of connecting all actors along the semolina value chain is presented in the example of Oromia, Ethiopia, and that success story is then used to prompt a wider discussion on the potential of durum wheat as a crop for poverty reduction in Africa.
Agro-industry; Ethiopia; oasis wheat; pasta wheat; Senegal River; value chain
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