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Wageningen Universiteit (2004)

Wheat and barley seed systems in Ethiopia and Syria

Bishaw, Z.

Titre : Wheat and barley seed systems in Ethiopia and Syria

Auteur : Bishaw, Z.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2004

In Ethiopia and Syria, wheat and barley are the two most important principal cereal crops grown since ancient times. Many generations of natural and human selection led into highly adapted and diverse populations of local landraces. For most of the history of agriculture, plant improvement and seed selection were farmer-based activities carried out as an integral part of crop production. With the development of commercial agriculture, plant breeding and seed production evolved into different disciplines. The wheat and barley seed systems were studied in Ethiopia and Syria to obtain an insight into the functioning of formal and informal seed systems with emphasis on understanding : the flow of information on new agricultural technologies ; farmers’ perception, criteria and adoption of modern varieties ; farmers’ seed sources and indigenous knowledge in seed management practices ; quality of seed planted by farmers and its constraints ; and on-farm wheat and barley diversity.
Farmers use multiple sources of information such as the formal (extension services, development agencies, research institutions, media broadcast) or the informal (own experience, relatives, neighbors, other farmers, local traders) sources to acquire knowledge on varieties and/or agronomic packages for crop production. Most wheat growers (over 90%) are aware of and have information on modern varieties, agrochemical inputs (fertilizers, herbicides, etc.) and agronomic packages. In Ethiopia, the formal extension service was the main source of information for new technologies generated by research through its recently introduced agricultural package program, comparatively more so than in Syria where fellow farmers (relatives, neighbors and other farmers) accounted as the major source of information. Neighbors and other farmers were the second most important informal sources of information particularly for modern varieties partly due to the lateral varietal diffusion through traditional seed exchanges.
Farmers grow three broad categories of wheat varieties, i.e. recommended, ’obsolete’ or landraces. An extensive use of modern wheat varieties and production packages was found among wheat growers in both countries. In Ethiopia, the majority of farmers grew modern bread wheat varieties (76% recommended and 10% obsolete varieties), and applied fertilizers (96.7%) and herbicides (63.5%) to their wheat crop. Similarly, wheat farmers in Syria used modern varieties on the recommended list (97%), fertilizers (99.5%), herbicides (92.7%), storage pesticides (40.8%), and seed treatment chemicals (90.3%). However, the use of modern varieties and associated technologies was negligible for barley growers in Syria except for the use of fertilizers (56%). Although seven modern barley varieties were released none of them were widely adopted because of farmers’ preferences or lack of varietal adaptability. The entire barley area (99%) was planted with a local landrace Arabi Aswad in northeastern Syria. Developing crop varieties with high yield and yield stability for agroecologically diverse durum wheat growing environments in Ethiopia or agro-climatically variable marginal environments typical to barley production areas in northeastern Syria still remains a challenging task.

Mots clés : triticum aestivum / hordeum vulgare / wheat / barley / seed industry / quality / ethiopia / syria


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