The Chickpea Root Project

Funding
BBSRC
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This project will focus on chickpea in Ethiopia. Agriculture in Ethiopia is constrained by arid, infertile and marginal soil conditions. Climate change, altered precipitation patterns, prolonged droughts and the soil loss that ensues, adds to the challenges. Ethiopia's population has risen 2.6% annually over the last 50 years, but crop production grew by only 2% annually. Solutions are required to increase crop productivity, quantity and quality, for food security and climate resilience.

Legumes such as chickpea and grains such as sorghum, millet and maize are the major crops here. We will focus on chickpea, a key crop in developing nations. Pulses such as chickpea are crucial for protein nutrition to provide income and support livelihoods in rural areas of the least developed countries. Most chickpea growers in semi-arid agrosystems are subsistence farmers who lack resources and knowledge for crop improvement, thus, in the long-term, will benefit most from the improvements we aim for.

We will focus on developing advanced but cheap and cost-effective tools for root growth characterisation. This will subsequently allow researchers and breeders in Ethiopia to identify suitable germplasm for chickpea breeding. We will also use our expertise in innovation financing and soil quality enhancement to accelerate the uptake of the technological innovations we will develop. We will, in collaboration with Ethiopian colleagues, contribute to long-term planning for sustainable enhancement of food security in Ethiopia and other countries with an arid climate.