The Wheat Compact is led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) with activities in seven countries including the East African Highlands, Southern Africa Plateau and Sahel. Activities in the Sahel are of particular importance as the development of new crop varieties permits irrigated wheat production during its cool season.
The wheat technology toolkits feature many new wheat varieties with heat and drought tolerance, and stem rust resistance. These traits allow for expansion of wheat production in Africa, including the Sahel during its cooler “winters”. It is fast-tracking this next generation variety release through national programs. It offers expertise in land preparation including raised beds, furrow and deficit irrigation, and sprinkler systems. It promotes low-cost mechanized planting within conservation agriculture. Soil fertility is managed through specially-blended pre-plant fertilizer and legume rotation. Weeds are managed through pre-emergent herbicides. Pests and diseases are managed through early planting, and bred resistance to the Hessian fly and stem and yellow rust as well as strategic release of biocontrol agents for insect pests.
This Compact embodies the greatest level of mechanization, and expansion of contract planting and combine harvester fleets are essential to its overall success. At the same time, it promotes smaller-scale out-grower technologies that can accommodate wheat rotation into existing cropping systems. The Compact rationale is intended to develop greater self-sufficiency in Africa’s wheat production to reduce the current massive imports. This strategy includes the compact flour milling systems and development of wheat’s many value-added food products.