Six Innovation Platforms (IPs) have been established in the three hub countries of Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Sudan to validate and disseminate improved wheat varieties and production techniques. The aim is to strengthen capacity by promoting interaction between farmers and other stakeholders in the wheat value chain.
In Sudan, consultation with stakeholders has resulted in to the establishment of IPs in the Northern, River Nile, Gezira, and Kassala (New Halfa) states. Each IP has around 15 technical validation and demonstration plots. The IPs supply farmers with different varieties of seed, fertilisers (DAP+ and urea) and herbicides. Support is continued with several follow-up and technical visits in which problems encountered can be discussed and advice given.
The sites have also been used to provide a meeting place and for training on the wheat production packages. Trials have proved successful, demonstrating a 68% increase in production across the plots of 3.7 t/ha.
More than 3000 stakeholders, including farmers, policy makers, financial institutions, input providers, agricultural managers, researchers, extensionists, and media representatives, attended 18 field and harvest days at the six IPs. Strong political commitment to the projects has been demonstrated by visits to four of the IPs by high-ranking officials from Sudan and ICARDA.
In Ethiopia, the SARD-SC project has focused on promoting and disseminating improved wheat technology to small-scale farmers in the Highlands.
In 2014, 2094 farmers (2327 men and 67 women) participated in the initiative across six IPs using 89.3 tonne of improved seed. Yields have increased significantly through the integrated technology approach, combining improved seed varieties with novel farming techniques, with small-scale farmers achieving 4.2–6.5 t/ha and larger concerns harvesting up to 9.2 t/ha.
Lowland regions of Ethiopia have also benefitted from newly released varieties. For example, Adel-6 and Nejmah-14 have been promoted to 240 agro-pastoralists. Following the success of these schemes, the 2014 Annual Planning Meeting of the Ethiopian SARD-SC Wheat Team proposed the establishment of an IP in the region of Oromia/Afar to promote three improved varieties to 500 farmers and other stakeholders in the wheat value chain.