Mekelle University Department of Dry Land Crop and Horticultural Sciences developed durum wheat candidate varieties as field visit and evaluation has been made by panel of experts from national variety release committee to identified farm lands in the region on 21 – 22 October, 2016.
Researchers from MU has been characterizing more than 400 durum wheat genotypes, of which more than 373 were farmer varieties “the so called landraces” in Tigray region since 2011. After three years of thorough characterization at two locations, 36 genotypes were selected for further study at four locations namely Melfa [Hagreselam], MU [Enderta], Ayba [Embalajie] and Korem [Ofla] during 2014 and 2015 cropping seasons to select and register high yielder and stable variety for commercial production in the region.
According to the lead researcher, Dr. Dejene Kassahun, these trials helped to identify the desired varieties for official registration and distribution to our farming communities. The researcher indicated that three outstanding candidate varieties were selected and planted of variety verification trial (VVT) during 2016 cropping season in all the four locations for evaluation by national variety release committee. Accordingly, a panel of evaluators consisting of three professionals did the evaluation of the candidate varieties together with two standard checks “Asassa and Mangudo”
Discussion between breeders and evaluators
During the evaluation field visit, researchers and scientist from MU, farmers from respective areas and experts from local Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development were among the participants.
Participants approached by the university communication office said that the candidate varieties are superior in performance and hoped to partially solve the shortage of improved durum wheat for commercial production in the region. Similarly, farmers from Ayba site expressed their ambition to use these candidate varieties by bringing bundle of pasta and macaroni bags. Therefore, this implies that the project induced within the farming community of Ayba, at least, to plan for commercial production of crops such as durum wheat.
Farmers demonstrating the foreseen product of this research
It has been learnt that both the researchers and participant farmers are optimistic to have the evaluated candidate varieties registered nationally to contribute to the shortage of improved varieties of durum wheat in Tigray region. Dr. Dejene Kassahun, the leader of the project, indicated that durum wheat research team of MU will continue to search from stable and high yielding varieties from our collection of farmer varieties and the recombinant inbred lines (RILs) developed from crossing between 50 selected farmers varieties and improved variety “Asassa”.