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Open AccessArticle

Durum Wheat (Triticum durum Desf.): Origin, Cultivation and Potential Expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA), Saint-Louis 46024, Senegal
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International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Rabat 10000, Morocco
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Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), Addis Ababa 1000, Ethiopia
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Ethiopian Institute Agricultural Research (EIAR), Agricultural Research Center, Debre Zeit 1000, Ethiopia
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Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (SLU), Institutionen för Växtförädling (VF), 23053 Alnarp, Sweden
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International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Amman 1118, Jordan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(5), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9050263
Received: 11 April 2019 / Revised: 6 May 2019 / Accepted: 13 May 2019 / Published: 24 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Durum Wheat Breeding and Genetics)
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 Sahara this crop has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, smallholder farmers still grow it on marginal lands to assure production for their own consumption. However, durum wheat is no longer just a staple crop for food security but has become a major cash crop. In fact, the pasta, burghul and couscous industry currently purchase durum grain at prices 10 to 20% higher than that of 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 over 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 in daytime temperatures always above 32 °C. This review describes the potential of releasing durum wheat varieties adapted to all growing conditions of SSA, from the oases of the Sahara to the highlands of Ethiopia. This indicates that the new breeding technologies offer great promise for expanding the area of durum wheat production in SSA but that this achievement remains primarily 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: Agro-industry; Ethiopia; oasis wheat; pasta wheat; Senegal River; value chain Agro-industry; Ethiopia; oasis wheat; pasta wheat; Senegal River; value chain
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MDPI and ACS Style

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.

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