Tef, a staple food for 50 million of the estimated 80 million population of Ethiopia, is a tiny-seeded cereal crop that is used to make injera, a spongy pancake widely consumed. The crop is versatile in its adaptation, with good resilience to both low and high moisture stresses, high value as a cash crop (the grain is prized and the straw is valued as a high-quality animal fodder), and minimal pre- and post-harvest losses due to diseases and pests. However, due to the localized importance of tef, global research and development on this crop is highly limited in comparison to other cereal crops.Since 1994, the McKnight Foundation has supported tef research, which led to the development and release of three improved tef varieties. Several important research and development challenges remain to be resolved for tef. These include low productivity, lodging (the displacement of crops from their vertical position, i.e. wind or rain damage), labor-intensive agronomic practices, poor seed quality, poor national seed systems, and weak research-extension linkages and systems. The present study intends to extend the achievements of the previous tef program to the intended beneficiaries, integrate genetic and agronomic practices to improve tef productivity and production and combat lodging. The goal of the proposed project is to increase the productivity and production of tef, and thereby contribute to improved livelihood and food security in Ethiopia.
Impact of the successful tef varieties will be rigorously assessed.New tef germplasm will be collected and evaluated.Substantial increase in the productivity and production of tef through breeding and improved agronomy.Contributions to discernibly improved livelihoods of tef growing Ethiopia’s peasant farmers and thereby to the national food security in the country.Enhanced national research capability for sustainable tef improvement program.Strengthened alternative and innovative tef seed and technology transfer systems.
Outputs and Outcomes:
43 new crosses were produced during 2011, targeted for high potential areas, terminal low moisture stress areas, and lodging resistance. Seeds of these candidate varities have been increased for subsequent variety verification trials to be evaluated by the National Variety Release Committee in the forthcoming season. In addition, from the early and late set preliminary variety trials and observation nurseries, some promising genotypes have been identified and promoted for subsequent multi-environment field evaluations in the coming seasons. All the crosses in 2012 were single crosses; a total of 85 crosses in 2011-2012. The Quncho Tef variety has been distributed widely for seed multiplication and research purposes. 987 farmers in different Tef growing districts of the country have received Quncho seeds on a revolving loan basis as part of the Quncho technology scaling-up activities. In addition, the National Technology Scaling up Program of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research has distributed a total of about 91.08t of Quncho seeds to about 12,146 farmers in three of the tef growing regions (Amhara, Oromia and SNNP).Initial efforts were made to develop low-tech mechanization planting implements for tef, with promising results. The first season results from agronomic trials aimed at improving combinations of planting methods and seed rates have shown that it should be feasible to reduce seeding rates now recommended by half to 2/3. Row sowing may offer the added advantage of ease of cultural management operations, especially in combination with the use of appropriate planting/sowing implements.A total of 94t (33t Quncho and 68t other improved varieties) of seeds have been multiplied by the project partner centers, and over 90% of seed produced has been distributed to users primarily for seed multiplication, on-farm demonstration and scaling-up, and research purposes. A total of 780 farmers’ households with a total area of 195 ha participated in the promotion of the Quncho variety, with an additional 1011 households with a total area of 256 ha participated in Quncho scaling up with the project partner centers.Tef Team (Quncho tef variety) awarded Gold Medal for outstanding problem solving research achievement by GoE (MoST) 14 Nov 2012. From Early set NVT trial in 2009/10 and 2010/11, the combined ANOVA over five locations showed two promising candidate varities, Boset was approved for release in 2012 (first early variety released since 1983!).A preliminary analysis, based on one year’s trial data, suggested that targeting of varieties to environments could improve overall yields by 10% over selection of most widely-adapted varieties.Of the 85 crosses made during the two years, seven crosses have been advanced to F3, six have been advanced to F3, and 13 crosses advanced to F2 generations.Crossing technique for finger millet based on surgical method showed success in seed set. Progeny were verified to by hyprid.Of the variety performance trials, two early maturing candidate varieties that beat the old early maturing standard check variety DZ-Cr-37 have been verified on-station and on-farm, with one cultivar officially released.The current seed supply of improved tef varieties is inadequate (72%) to meet demand and price is also expensive (37%). Problems such as unavailability on time (37%) and a bias in seed distribution in favor of better off farmers (59%); the use of loans in the extension program are disincentives to farmers.