A ‘travelling workshop’ in Tunisia recently visited on-farm demonstration sites of an ICARDA-managed initiative to strengthen the performance of wheat-legume production systems across North Africa and West Asia. Funded by the European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the project is introducing a package of technologies, interventions and improved high-yielding varieties of food legumes and wheat.

The workshop brought together farmers, Ministry of Agriculture officials and scientists from national research institutions to observe the progress of crop trials. Participants interacted with local farmers who expressed satisfaction with the performance of introduced crops, the activities conducted on their farms, and expressed interest in continuing with the trials.

Farmers were encouraged by preliminary results from the 2013-14 growing season. In the semi-arid region of Neber, for instance, the introduction of recommended technology packages and improved varieties of faba bean and chickpea achieved yield increases of 40% and 30%, respectively, over conventional farmer practices. Farmers were able to take advantage of favorable growing conditions, including the good distribution of rainfall.

Extending new varieties and innovations to more farmers is also being pursued, and over the course of the Project, on-farm demonstrations have evolved into Farmer Field Schools. These events are monitoring how farmers can best manage their food legume and wheat crops to achieve higher yields and deal with challenges and constraints.

Around 20 farmers and extensionists attend each Farmer Field School and participating farmers are expected to transfer their acquired knowledge and demonstrate new technologies to neighboring farmers. Progress of the initiative can be followed at http://www.icarda.org/strengthening-wheat-legume-systems/teaser

Source: What’s New at ICARDA