In an effort to surmount the challenges hindering wheat cultivation in West and Central Africa, Dr. Sridhar Bhavani, the Wheat Improvement Lead for East Africa and Head of Rust Research at the Global Wheat Program-CIMMYT, is spearheading initiatives to combat both biotic and abiotic obstacles.
This was contained in his presentation at the just concluded Regional Wheat Summit 2023, in Abuja, where Bhavani said current estimates reveal potential grain yield losses of 18%, with actual losses standing at 13% despite existing disease control measures.
With nearly 200 documented wheat diseases and pests, of which 50 are economically significant, Bhavani emphasized the imperative to address this agricultural menace.
He said the battle extends beyond pests and diseases, delving into abiotic constraints such as heat stress, soil alkalinity, and drainage issues are impeding the region’s wheat expansion.
“The lack of internal drainage leading to root zone alkalinity and faster nutrient depletion pose significant challenges.”
Dr. Bhavani said there’s a need to revolutionize the wheat landscape in the Autumn-sown harmattan period, laying the groundwork for a robust and sustainable agricultural future in the region.