Trials of improved crop varieties under way
Improved varieties of wheat, a key strategic crop, have been planted across Iraq since the HSAD project was implemented late last year, an effort to demonstrate their effectiveness and promote their dissemination to farmers. Tolerant to a range of stresses, including salinization and drought, the crops are crucial to Iraq’s long-term food security.
The trials were mostly concentrated in Wasit, Babil and Karballa. Wasit is the leading province for wheat production under irrigated conditions, and environmental conditions in Babil and Karballa are also highly suited to wheat cultivation.
Varieties of improved wheat included the drought-tolerant Essaouira, grown in Wasit province, and the salt-tolerant Furat, planted in Babil and Wasit.
Promoting improved wheat varieties is an important component of the HSAD project. Improved seeds form part of the ‘technology packages’ distributed to farmers to raise production, and project activities include efforts to accelerate the seed multiplication of promising lines. A working group convened at a recent HSAD technical meeting focused on seed production, discussing the importance of variety maintenance and registration, and the constraints facing farmers. Also raised were plans for the coming year: accelerated pre-release seed multiplication, demonstrations of newly-released crop varieties, and efforts to strengthen institutional and human resource capacity for improved seed production.