#Crop Production, #Wheat Breeding, #Innovation Platform, #Climate Change
Developing wheat varieties tolerant to hot and dry climate for adaptation to global warming
Wheat, sorghum, and pearl millet are the major calorie sources in Sudanese diet. They provide more than half of the daily calorie need of the people. However, supply is not sufficient, especially wheat. Wheat production cannot keep up with the demand because of continuous increase in consumption due to population growth and urbanisation (Fig.1). To deal with the shortage of wheat, the imports have been increased. In recent years, more and more wheat have to be imported, which is not a favorable situation from the aspect of food security.
The government of Sudan has positioned wheat as the most important strategic crop and is aiming to increase the production nationally. However, the biggest problem in wheat cultivation in the country is high temperature. Wheat is cultivated during the cold season, but due to global warming, seasonal temperature has been steadily rising. Therefore, it is required to develop wheat varieties that are highly tolerant to high temperature. In addition, it is essential to develop varieties that can grow well while saving freshwater and fertiliser resources to make wheat cultivation sustainable.
Before the start of this project, Tottori University had been searching for excellent properties of wild plants through introducing their genes to cultivated wheat background by crossing to produce a large number of lines with enhanced diversity. Tottori University signed an academic exchange agreement with the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) in Sudan in 1998, building a strong partnership in education and research. This project is based on the trust fostered between Tottori University and ARC.
This project is in the framework of Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and the Government of Sudan, aiming to develop novel environmentally resilient wheat varieties. Stakeholders from Sudan and Japan hold at least once-a-year Joint Coordinating Committee meeting to monitor and evaluate the progress of the project (Fig. 2).
The long-term goal of this project is to contribute in increasing wheat production under high temperature of Sudan’s enviro nment, enabling self-sufficiency, maintaining food security, and eliminating poverty in the country. The aim is also effective for utilisation of natural resources, such as freshwater, by developing and prevailing technology for better wheat production. Furthermore, a system is to be established which enables the project to be carried out independently after its implementation is completed. To achieve these goals, the project is operating through five specialty groups.
1．Wheat Genetic Breeding Group
This group aims to expand the diversity of wheat germplasm by using new genetic resources and select novel high-temperature and drought-tolerant wheat lines from its diversity. Development of DNA markers is also practiced to elucidate the genetic mechanism of these environmentally tolerant wheat varieties, and to select tolerant lines more effectively and efficiently. The selection of some heat- and drought-tolerant lines has already been achieved. Now, work to produce varieties suitable for Sudanese agriculture has been conducted by crossing the selected tolerant lines with existing Sudanese cultivars, as well as selecting high temperature and drought-tolerant genotypes (Fig. 3 and 4).
2．Flour Quality Group
This group is investigating the impact of hot and dry environments on the baking and nutritional properties of wheat, and is laying the scientific base for the selection of genotypes that are less affected by climate change. Some promising lines that possess novel genes for better quality flour have been identified.
3．Mechanism Elucidation Group
This group is conducting research that aims to create biomarkers for efficient selection of high-temperature tolerant lines in breeding by investigating the response of the genes and metabolites of wheat under the stress of high temperature and drought.
4．Climate Change Group
The research of this group is focusing on the future climate projections in Sudan to determine the degree of high-temperature and drought tolerance required for future wheat varieties, to estimate the time frame for developing new varieties, to develop weather warning systems, and to indicate the conditions necessary for developing new climate compatible agricultural technologies (Fig. 5).
5．Capacity Strengthening Group
It is essential to train professionals to develop innovative wheat cultivation technology autonomously in Sudan in the future. Young researchers from Sudan are being invited to Japan as graduate students and trainings are provided for them to raise future leaders in wheat cultivation. Moreover, in Sudan, information dissemination activities are conducted through brochures (in Arabic) and promoting their content through mass and social media. Information about innovative wheat cultivation technologies provided to farmers and all stakeholders in the wheat value chain are very effective to solve the food problem (Fig. 6, 7, and 8).
Making good seeds available to seed producers and farmers within the innovation platforms established at different wheat production areas have been implemented also in this project.
For further information, please consult the manuals and reports
This project has been fully implemented since 2019 and will be completed in 2023. However, the breeding project needs to continue even after project completion. Therefore, after completion of the technical support from Japan through SATREPS, it is necessary to implement the breeding projects autonomously in Sudan. As preparation, the project trains leaders who will continue the project by enrolling them in doctoral programme at the Graduate School in Tottori University (Fig. 9). Also, a molecular breeding facility will be constructed at ARC for deploying the learned technology in Sudan. This facility is expected to become a base for developing wheat varieties in Sudan and similar agroecologies in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also hoped that this facility will become an innovative breeding base for the major crops other than wheat, and contribute to the alleviation of poverty and solving impacts of climate change through supporting the second goal of the SDGs on zero hunger.
All of the pictures in this article are provided by Prof. Hisashi TSUJIMOTO and Dr. I. S. A. Tahir
Project implementer・implementing body
Representatives of the research project
Representative of the project： Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, TSUJIMOTO Hisashi
The counterpart of Sudan： ARC, Dr. Izzat S. A. Tahir
Implementing body of research project
Japanese side：Tottori University, Utsunomiya University
Sudanese side： Agricultural Research Corporation, Sudan Meteorological Authority
For more information, check out the official website.
The information contained in this article was written by AI-CD Secretariat based on information which is publicly available without consent of each source for the purpose of introducing Japan’s cooperation. AI-CD Secretariat does not guarantee that there will be no errors in the contents of this article, and disclaims any liability for errors and omissions or for any damages accruing from the use of this article. The article also includes contents, links, other information, and translated material provided by third-parties for which AI-CD Secretariat claims no responsibility.
Written by Prof. Hisashi TSUJIMOTO and Dr. I. S. A. Tahir
Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University