African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6836

Full Length Research Paper

Ancient and novel Ethiopian durum wheat cultivars: What is the future for their cultivation?

Wasihun Legesse
  • Wasihun Legesse
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
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Habtamu Tesfaye
  • Habtamu Tesfaye
  • Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
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Flippo M. Bassi
  • Flippo M. Bassi
  • International Centres for Agricultural Research in Dry Area (ICARDA), Rabat, Morocco.
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  •  Received: 08 November 2023
  •  Accepted: 06 February 2024
  •  Published: 31 March 2024

Abstract

Durum wheat ancient cultivars have been grown in Ethiopia for centuries. Until the 1960s, durum wheat covered all wheat areas in the country; nearly all surfaces were represented by landraces. Now, the area dedicated to durum wheat has declined to approximately 15% of the wheat surface. Still, Ethiopia remains an immense genetic diversity resource for durum wheat. In 2019-21, a group of researchers conducted a field survey, assessment, and collection of durum wheat landraces in seven zones and 18 districts of different geographical growing areas at various altitudes in the country. The aim was to record their distribution, diversity, benefits, and define their probable future. Based on morphological differences and other characteristics, landraces received different local names, with a total of 26 names identified. Farmers mentioned that the medicinal value, taste, odor of its food, late planting time in the growing season of the crop, and its use for the preparation of local brewery had a high contribution to the existence of landraces and their diversity. However, according to the assessment result, genetic erosion is accelerating due to the scarcity of land caused by population growth, the substitution of landraces by improved durum wheat and bread wheat varieties, and less market availability for landraces. The adoption of more in situ conservation practices is essential to maintain the full diversity. Ethiopian durum wheat, which has immense diversity, could be a new source of resistant genes for national and international wheat improvement programs, exploiting valuable traits for many biotic and abiotic productions limiting factors, and utilizing unique and good agronomic traits.

Key words: Durum wheat landraces, field survey assessment, genetic erosion, in situ site establishment.