Ethiopia is the second largest producer of wheat in sub-Saharan Africa although yields remain considerably below the global average due to several production constraints. The aim of the study was to identify the primary threats to wheat production, farmers’ selection criteria for wheat varieties, and disease management practices with emphasis on wheat rusts in the Arsi, Bale and West Shewa administrative zones of Ethiopia. A total of 270 wheat growing households were interviewed in the three administrative zones in 2012. Participatory rural appraisal tools, a semi-structured questionnaire and focus group discussions were used to engage with the farmers. Main wheat production constraints were wheat rust diseases, the high costs of fertilizers, shortage of improved seeds and high seed prices. The most important traits that farmers sought in wheat varieties were disease resistance (27.8%) and high grain yield (24.8%). Owing to the limited availability of rusts resistant varieties, and the emergence of virulent pathotypes, fungicide application was the main disease management practice used by 60% of respondent farmers. To enhance wheat production and productivity in Ethiopia, it is important to develop rust resistant varieties considering farmers’ preferences, promote access to wheat production inputs and strengthen seed multiplication and dissemination of improved varieties.
Key words: Ethiopia, participatory rural appraisal, rust, seed source, wheat production constraints, wheat traits.
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