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Eritrea's full report - Eritrea

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 Eritrea's full report - Eritrea Powered By Docstoc
					                     Report


Plant Breeding and Related Biotechnology Capacity



                    Eritrea




                   Prepared by
               Iyassu Ghebretatios




               Asmara, August 2008
                                    Table of contents


Acronyms ___________________________________________________________________1
1. Introduction _______________________________________________________________2
2. National Agricultural Research System______________________________________4
3. Description and interpretation of the completed questionnaires_______________7
  The Hamelmalo Agricultural College _________________________________________________ 7
  The National Agricultural Research Institute __________________________________________ 8
4. Assessment of plant breeding and biotechnology capacity __________________11
  Plant breeding centers ____________________________________________________________ 11
  Number and educational level of the scientists_________________________________________ 12
  Total budget and proportion by crop breeding programs _______________________________ 12
  Resource allocation by crop breeding programs _______________________________________ 12
  Main breeding programmes________________________________________________________ 13
  Resource allocation by crop and improvement activities ________________________________ 13
  Budget distribution by major areas of the breeding research ____________________________ 13
  Resource allocation by crop and improvement activities ________________________________ 14
  Budget distribution by major areas of the breeding research ____________________________ 14
  Involvement of breeding programs in biotechnology research____________________________ 14
  Number of crosses, segregating populations, trials and locations _________________________ 14
  Source of germplasm used in the breeding program____________________________________ 15
  Environmental breeding priorities __________________________________________________ 15
  Required help from the international community to increase efficient use of plant genetic
  resources _______________________________________________________________________ 15
  Number of varieties released by the organization ______________________________________ 15
  Most limiting aspect of the success of the crop breeding program_________________________ 16
5. Conclusions _____________________________________________________________16
6. Options for strengthening capacity to use plant genetic resources ___________17
7. References _______________________________________________________________18
8. Attachments _____________________________________________________________19
  Attachment 1: Surveyed plant breeding centers _______________________________________ 19
  Attachment 2: Number of scientists and their educational level __________________________ 19
  Attachment 3: Budget and the proportion that was allocated to plant breeding activities _____ 19
  Attachment 4: Resource allocation (human and financial) for plant breeding activities by crop or
  crop-group ______________________________________________________________________ 20
Attachment 5: Allocation of the resources by crop or crop-group from 1995 to 2005 _________ 20
Attachment 5bis: Main breeding programmes ________________________________________ 20
Attachment 6: Allocation of the resources by research areas versus the whole budget of NARI 21
Attachment 7: Average number of crosses, populations, trials and locations managed for every
crop and/or crop-group ___________________________________________________________ 21
Attachment 8: Main sources of germplasm (%) used in the breeding program______________ 22
Attachment 9: Environment breeding priorities by organization and crops ________________ 23
Attachment 10: Required assistance from the international community ___________________ 24
Attachment 11: Varieties released by crops and institution ______________________________ 24
Attachment 12: Limiting aspects for the success of the plant breeding programs ____________ 25
Attachment 13: Crop varieties released from 1984 to 2005 including arranged by crop and
originator _______________________________________________________________________ 25
Attachment 14: List of people contacted______________________________________________ 26
                                                                                                  1


Acronyms



ASARECA    Association for Agricultural Research for Eastern and Central Africa
CIMMYT     International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre
CIP        Centro International de la Papa
CGIAR      Consultative Group in International Agricultural Research
FAO        Food and Agriculture Organization
ECARSAM    Eastern and Central Africa research on Sorghum and Millet
DANIDA     Danish International Development Agency
HCA        Hamelmalo College of Agriculture
ICARDA     International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas
ICRISAT    International crops research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics
ILRI       International Livestock Research Institute
ICRAF      International Centre for Agroforestry Research
ICIPE      International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology
ISNAR      International Service for National Agricultural Research
MOA        Ministry of Agriculture
NARI       National Agricultural Research Institute
R&D        Research and Development




                           Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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1. Introduction
Eritrea is a country of North-eastern Africa bordered on the east by the Red Sea, the south by
Djibouti and Ethiopia, and the north and west by Sudan. It has a land area of 12 189 000
hectares and a population estimated at 4.9 million in 2005. The country has an estimated annual
population growth rate of 2.6% (World Bank, 2004). Eritrea is in the Sahelian rainfall zone, with
rainfall provided by the south-western monsoons. In normal years, rainfall varies from an annual
average of 400 mm to 600 mm in the highlands and from 300 to 400 mm in the lowlands. The
annual temperature and relative humidity are 15-21 and 60% in the highlands and 21-29 and
40% in the lowlands respectively. The soils are dominated by Cambisols, Lithosols, Fluvisols,
Regosols, Salonchak with light and medium textured and Vertisols with heavy textured soils.
Climate, rainfall and topography are highly varied. The country is periodically subject to severe
droughts which result in extreme food deficit years.

Agriculture is the back bone of the Eritrean economy. Over 70% of Eritrea’s people are rural and
depend for their livelihood on traditional subsistence agriculture including crop farming, mixed
agro-pastoralist and pure pastoralist. Average family plot size is 0.75-1 ha in the highlands and
2-3 ha in the lowlands. Although up to 3.2 million hectares of land is estimated to have potential
for agriculture only 555 000 ha is currently cultivated under rain fed and the irrigated land area is
about 21 000 ha. Together they make up for about 5% of the total land area (MoA, 2002).


Agro-ecological zones
   Eritrea falls into six agro-ecological zones based on rainfall, altitude, soils and vegetation.
   1) Central Highland Zone (CHZ) - cool, semi-arid, above 1 500 m in altitude, with an annual
       rainfall of 500-700 mm. This comprises of highland and midland area. The major cereal
       crops are sorghum, pearl millet, barley, wheat, maize, legumes, and horticultural crops
       like potato, tomato, cabbage, and lettuce, orange.
   2) Western Escarpment Zone (WEZ)- warm to hot, semi-arid above 1 500 m in altitude, with
       an annual rainfall of up to 500 mm. The zone is in the interface between the central
       highlands and western lowlands. Grain sorghum and pearl millet are the major crops.
   3) South-western Lowland Zone (SWLZ)- hot, semi-arid, 500-1 600 m in altitude with
       average annual rainfall ranging between 500-700 mm. The principal production systems
       are semi-sedentary agro-pastoralist system; crop/livestock sedentary mixed system;
       small scale irrigated horticultural system and commercial farming. Grain sorghum, pearl
       millet, and sesame are the major crops. This zone is identified as having the greatest
       potential for agricultural development.
   4) North-western Lowland Zone (NWLZ)- 400-1 600 m in altitude, with hot arid to semi-arid
       climate and rainfall ranging between 200-500 mm. The principal production systems are
       the nomadic pastoralist and irrigated commercial fruit/vegetable production. Grain
       sorghum and pearl millet are major crops grown in this zone.
   5) Coastal Plain Zone (CPZ)-600 m and below, has a hot desert climate with an average
       rainfall of less than 200 mm. The production system is nomadic pastoralist. Rain-fed
       arable cropping in non-existent; however, grain sorghum and vegetables are produced
       under spate irrigation.
   6) Green-belt Zone (GBZ)- 600-2 600 m in altitude, with sub-humid climate and an annual
       rainfall of 700-1 100 mm allowing the cultivation of perennial crops i.e. coffee and citrus.
       Grain sorghum and maize are also produced.

Production Systems
The agricultural production systems characteristic for the country range from nomadic pastoral to
intensive irrigated horticultural system. The vast majority of producers use traditional crop


                                 Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
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varieties, animal breeds, and management practices. They are dependent on animal traction
and household labour, and use almost no modern inputs. A small number of farmers use more
modern technologies for commercial production. Due to the predominance of traditional
production practices rapid return in the form of higher productivity can be obtained through the
generation and dissemination of improved technology for the existing production systems.

All highland farming systems were unique in that by and large no modern inputs and no modern
varieties were used. Population pressure and thus farm size are very important factors as the
latter determine the farmers’ ability to practice soil improvements such as fallowing and growing
low yield leguminous crops (sector review, 1993). Many farmers in many areas of the highlands
are practicing mixed farming. Sorghum, barley, wheat, maize are the priority crops from cereals,
where as chickpea, lentil, field pea, faba bean are the priority legume crops.

 In the lowlands of the country, sorghum, millet and oil crops like sesame and groundnuts are
well grown. Like the highland farmers, traditional farming system was common and they use
local varieties for many years. In other words, farmers were not getting enough agricultural
inputs through strong agricultural extension systems like improved seeds, fertilizers, pesticides,
herbicides

In all agro-ecological zones land preparation is carried out with traditional steel-tipped plough
drawn by a pair of oxen. Method of planting is broadcasting and no chemical treatment is used.
Crop protection using chemical is rare. Harvesting is done by sickle and threshing is done by
oxen treading the grain. Grains are stored in large clay pots. Seed was selected by physical
characteristics and threshed and stored separately till the next season. Seed source in many
cases is from farmers whereby they keep seed for the next season and some times they share
with their families and neighbours. Small scale irrigation from hand-dug wells tapping the shallow
groundwater is practiced. Perennial irrigation is also practiced from shallow underground water
along the Rivers of Barka and Gash. Invariably, irrigated plots are planted with vegetable and
fruit crops to take advantage of the urban markets.

When livestock production is considered, it accounts for a large portion of rural household
income. Individual households have different kind of animal. Oxen, camels and equines are
used for transport and traction. The livestock composition within the country is estimated to
include cattle 1.9 millions, sheep 2.1 millions, goats 4.7 millions, camel 0.3 millions, equines 0.5
millions and poultry 2.5 millions.


Agriculture plays a central role in economic development because increases in farm productivity
will provide food, income and employment for the population, marketable surpluses for urban
populations, and export/cash crop production for industry and external trade. The Eritrean
government inherited a badly disrupted economy, with a diminished agricultural production
capacity, damaged infrastructure, non-operational enterprises, and destroyed health and
educational facilities. In spite of these, considerable progress has been made from 1991 until
1998. The areas under cultivation and production levels for major crops, based on government
estimates, have shown steady increases since independence, until the boarder conflict years. In
1998 the country produced 85-90% of its food supply as the result of successful economic
recovery program. There was substantial increase in crop production due to the establishment of
large scale cereal crop farming by government, improved research and services, and good
rainfall. In 1999, self sufficiency in food production dropped to 60-65% due to the devastating
conflict with Ethiopia. Between 1995 and 1999 estimated real growth for the agricultural sector
was 10.6%, and for crop and livestock in the same period real growth was 15.6%.



                                Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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Crop improvement under the ministry of agriculture is contributing significantly in supplying
improved seed to farmers. Since 2004 more than 350 tones of cleaned improved sorghum seed
was distributed to farmers. Similarly, 48 tones of barley and wheat were distributed to the
highland farmers.

In areas where improved seed is distributed, a significant amount of yield increment estimating
50-100% was recorded. In line with the supply of improved seed, soil and water conservation
activity is going on as top priority of the Government of Eritrea. Taking this in to consideration,
several big and small dams as well as small and large diversion schemes were constructed by
the ministry of agriculture.

To strengthen the human capacity, the Faculty of Agriculture is producing a number of
graduates in crop production with BSc and diplomas. In addition to this, the ministry of
agriculture has given long and short term training and tried to fill the gap that was created
immediately after independence by upgrading 116 staff to the MSc level.

The main objective of the Ministry of Agriculture is to improve agricultural production and
productivity through an efficient and effective integrated approach with emphasis on irrigation
development, crop and livestock development, provision of farm support services and natural
resources development and management.

Irrigation water development includes constructing of small, medium and large irrigation
schemes, spate irrigation development and establishment of water use and management
associations. This is primarily to promote and develop crop and livestock production in a
sustainable manner. Modernizing agriculture based on an integrated approach to area-based
development schemes: investment in primary and on-farm irrigation water distribution systems,
introduction of high value crops (vegetables, fruits, cereals, and oil crops) for export market,
provision of improved seeds, planting materials and animal breeds, fertilizers etc. The future
base of arable agriculture will mainly be the eastern and western lowlands and to some extent to
high rainfall areas in the southern and central highlands. In the eastern and western lowlands
production and productivity will be raised with more irrigation development, improved farm
management and use of inputs. In the highlands the key to improved agricultural development
will be intensification and diversification of both crop and livestock management and moving
towards high value products.



2. National Agricultural Research System
Public or private sector agricultural research has been quite limited in the past and has been
oriented primarily to cash crops. The history of agricultural research in Eritrea started during the
Italian colonial period (1889-1941). The Italians established research farms at Filfil and Fagena
in the eastern slopes and at Keren and Adi Ugri in the midland areas in 1910. Introduction of
several plant species such as citrus, palms and cinchona was made. Mocha type coffee was
also introduced from Yemen. Introduction of wheat germplasm were made for the highland areas
in the 1920s. Research in the western lowlands started in the early 1920s by using irrigation
water from the Gash River for cotton production.

In 1941 the Italians were defeated by the British and Eritrea became a UN trust territory under
British control. During the British period, much was not done on research and no information is
available.



                                 Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
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During the Federation period with Ethiopia, some stations were established by the Italians who
remained in the country. New research farms were established at Sembel Daro Kawlos and Adi
Ugri as highland and midland sites after 1952. An International wheat rust nursery was
established at Paradiso in 1960. In this station, some varieties such as Kenya 1 and Nastazi
wheat varieties (named after the researcher) were developed. A crossing program on durum
wheat was also initiated to develop varieties with resistance to stem rust.

In 1962, Ethiopia took full control over Eritrea and turned it into a province. In 1976 the cotton
farm at Tessenei was turned into a parastatal enterprise. Introduction of cotton germplasm from
the United States and Israel resulted in the development of the variety ‘Acala 17c’. Research
facilities, including greenhouses, were established at Sembel and Paradiso by the Imperial
Ethiopian Government, but these were abandoned later on when the war situation intensified in
Eritrea. In the mean time, the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front (EPLF) started to give high
priority to agricultural research in the areas it controlled as of the mid-1980s. Research programs
initiated during this period included soils (soil fertility, salinity), horticulture and agronomy, crop
protection. Forestry and range management, animal science, and farm machinery.

Building on the research experiences attained during the pre-independence years by the EPLF,
the new Eritrean government gave high priority to building a national agricultural research
service and so far substantial investments have been made in training staff and building a
research infrastructure.

Eritrea has achieved independence and recognition as a new country in 1993. Its public
infrastructure and institutions, its environment and its economy have been seriously damaged
and affected. The government has initiated the task of establishing public sector organizations to
stimulate economic growth and to provide basic services for its population. High priority has
been given to strengthening the national agricultural research and extension services and thus
requested ISNAR and FAO to assist in developing medium term and strategic plan. As the result
public sector agricultural research was established in 1994 with its goals, objectives and its
strategies. At present there are very few commercial enterprises involved in technology transfer.
There are several small agrochemical companies that sell inputs such as fertilizer, seeds, and
pesticides and motor pumps to an emergent commercial farming sector, but they do not provide
technical advice. No seed companies have been established as yet.

The agricultural research policy of Eritrea emphasizes increased production of traditional and
high value crops and livestock, and the development of irrigation and water resources adequate
to support an export oriented agricultural sector. The broad strategy for improved agricultural
research is a major increase in the flow of relevant technologies to farmers to underpin
productivity growth in the agricultural sector, with particular attention to traditional production
systems and the promotion of high value commodities for export. These innovations must be
relevant to farmers needs and sustainable in terms of the environment and profitability, realistic
in input requirements and supportive of efforts to enhance environmental quality. Research will
develop, test and disseminate agricultural technology to producers that enhances national and
farm level food security that is the highest priority of the government. Hence, the main objective
of agricultural research is to improve yields of food and cash crops, and livestock commodities.

Two ways of approach by research
   1) The identification and promotion of high value crops/commodities to increase income levels
      from agricultural products
   2) Improvements in the production levels of traditional food crops and livestock.




                                 Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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This is supposed to be achieved by carrying out applied and adaptive research in three main
stations namely: Halhale (representing the highland and midland), Sheib (representing eastern
lowland) and Goluj (representing western lowland) and seven sub Stations that concentrate on
crop, livestock, natural resources management, and agricultural engineering on priority
commodities and production systems.

Farmer participatory research which involves farmers in planning and executing the testing and
adaptation of agricultural innovations to suit their needs and circumstance is another recently
used research approach. Priority setting is based on identification of farmers’ constraints at two
levels: between production systems, and among commodities and themes.


Current status of the Eritrean plant breeding program and its future trends
The Eritrean plant breeding program started in 1995 with the assistance of the international
research institutions such as ICARDA, ICRISAT, CIMMYT, CIP, and DANIDA. The program
focused on the development of improved varieties of wheat, barley, maize, sorghum, and pearl
millet and locally adapted farmer varieties for specific agro-climatic zone of the country. The
approach was to build upon the adaptation and the preferred characteristics of the farmers own
varieties as well as improve these for disease resistance, drought tolerance, yield potential and
uniformity. The program was intended to produce superior experimental varieties to produce
breeder and foundation seed and supervise certified seed production to assure that quality seed
is available to farmers.

Sorghum breeding program was initiated in the three research sites namely Halhale, Goluj, and
Shieb and one sub-station Shambuko by crossing improved exotic with popular landraces
varieties and improved exotic with improved exotic. The program was focused on improving
sorghum yield, earliness, high ratoon capacity, striga resistance, pest and disease resistance
etc. Crossing activities and nurseries follows evaluation and selection of pedigree segregating
bulks advanced into different generations and yield trial to obtain the desired sorghum character.
In 2004 a new project on fighting striga funded by Association for Agricultural Research in East
and Central Africa (ASARECA), sorghum and millet network called ECARSAM, was initiated to
use molecular markers tightly linked to striga resistance Qualitative Trait Loci (QTL) in the
marker-assisted selection (MAS). By using MAS and farmer-participatory selection the project
aims at transferring striga resistance gene from resistant donor (N13) to susceptible farmer
preferred sorghum varieties. NARI selected two susceptible farmer preferred sorghum varieties
(FPSV) called Hugurtay and Harriray and crossed (hand emasculated) with the striga resistant
donor (N13) to produce F1 (N138Hugurtay) progenies. This F1 generation was planted to be
back crossed and produce BC1F, BC2F1, BC3F1. These lines will be planted/advanced to on-
farm trials to be evaluated for their striga resistance. It is worth to mention that for the last 10
years NARI was able to develop 3 varieties that are fit to the highland and midland area and
three varieties well adapted to the lowland area of the country.

In millet, the program was intended to produce high yielding, pest and disease resistant varieties
by crossing local landraces with exotic ones. As a result two varieties were developed and
released while two are in pipeline so the breeding activity is still continuing to develop high
yielding varieties.

Eritrea is known as a country of diversity especially for barley and therefore selection of best
barley varieties and their comparison with exotic variety was going on since 1995 and our local
varieties outshined the exotic ones. One local barley varieties was found to give high yield and
released to farmers while three promising varieties are expected to be released in the near
future.


                                 Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
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Introduction of wheat germplasm from ICARDA and CIMMYT was started in 1996 and since then
variety selection between the local land races and exotic ones was going on and four varieties
were selected and grown by farmers. In 2004 a new project on farmers’ participatory approach in
conducting plant breeding program was launched by ICARDA under the Challenge Program
project. At the initial stage germplasm existing in the local genebank was used. Crossing
between the best selected lines was done by the participation of farmers and selected bulks
were used as entries in the new farmers’ initial, advanced and elite trials which finally end up in
increasing seeds at large scale.

At the beginning of 2006, 361 forage legumes of temperate origin and 141 grasses and legumes
of tropical origin were introduced from Australia to identify species adaptable to our climatic
conditions in which 57 forage lines were screened and selected to be suitable and adaptive to
our local situation.

There are several new opportunities for the breeding program in the future. ICRISAT is initiating
the backcrossing of a higher endosperm beta carotene (the precursor of human vitamin A
synthesis) trait into one Eritrean millet landrace with yellow seed coat. Breeding of topcross
hybrids which is comparatively easy and a wide range of male-sterile seed parents available
from ICRISAT will be the second opportunity for our breeding program. An introduction of striga
resistant (SRN, 39, IS9830), striga tolerant (ICSV 400, KSV4, CS35, CS95), drought resistant,
stay-green (B35, KS19) sorghum materials will be very important for NARI to improve the
susceptible farmer preferred sorghum varieties in Eritrea. As Eritrea is rich in crop diversity
especially on barley, faba bean and chickpea, reliance on indigenous materials will continue.
Improvement through crosses and recurrent selection of the attributes of the local landraces
especially for disease resistances will continue. Introduction of suitable genetic materials
especially for wheat and lentils will continue.



3. Description and interpretation of the completed questionnaires
Eritrea is one of the smallest and youngest sub-Saharan African countries and has only a few
agencies involved in agricultural research. The two main agricultural research agencies dealing
with plant breeding are the Hamelmalo College of Agriculture (HCA) and the National
Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).

Note that the survey questionnaire was filled by the senior researchers of two institutions,
namely Hamelmalo College of Agriculture and NARI, directly working in plant breeding research
works. Their answers are incorporated in the narrative report based on the filled questionnaire.
With regard to the research and statistics division of the Ministry of Fisheries, as no plant
breeding activities were done, they were asked to send a brief description of their activities and
this is also incorporated into the narrative report.


The Hamelmalo Agricultural College
The former College of Agriculture of the University of Asmara is now called Hamelmalo
Agricultural College (HCA). Plant breeding activities carried out by the College were not
significant and mostly concentrated on variety selection which started in 1985 and terminated in
1989. After independence, there was limited research work done by the Asmara University as
the main activity was education. In 1996, a post graduate program was launched at the
University and as the result the number of PhD holders had a significant increase.


                               Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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Data on number of plant breeders were collected in Full Time Equivalents1. In 1985 there were
two plant breeders with MSc degree working on variety selection within the College of
Agriculture in Asmara University. One of them received his PhD in 1990 while the other one in
1995. In the following years little research was carried out on plant breeding related activities. In
2005, the College was relocated to Hamelmalo and the two plant breeders were assigned posts
while one plant breeder from NARI was transferred to Hamelmalo which add up to the two plant
breeders at the Hamelmalo College of Agriculture. The plant breeder transferred to HCA from
NARI is MSc holder.

Plant biotechnology expert in the University is the one who received his PhD in 1995 and he
managed to establish tissue culture laboratory while most of his time was devoted to teaching.

Budget allocated for plant breeding activities was 50 000, 100 000 and 100 000 in 1985, 1990
and 1995, respectively. In 2000, the College of Agriculture of the University of Asmara spent
100 000 Nfa for plant breeding activities while 50 000 Nfa was spent in 2005 and then was
relocated to Hamelmalo and named Hamelmalo Agricultural College and primarily provides BSc
training but an estimated 25% of professional staff time is dedicated to basic and applied
research. No reliable sources are available to verify the budget allocation for plant breeding
purposes but Beintema et al (2003) indicated that in 2000 the HCA of the University of Asmara
spent a total of 0.6 million Nfa for research works and employed 13 full time researchers.

The College is currently conducting research works in the campus and on farmer’s fields, as well
as in NARI’s experimental fields.


The National Agricultural Research Institute
The Agricultural Research and Extension Division was established in 1994 with its goals,
objectives and strategies. In 1997, it was restructured as Department of Agricultural Research
and Human Resource Development (DARHRD) and then in 2003 into the National Agricultural
Research Institute (NARI). NARI is one of the three Departments of the Ministry of Agriculture;
its mandate is to conduct research on crops, livestock, horticulture, natural resource
management and agricultural engineering and to provide relevant short and long-term training.

After independence the majority of the researchers at the Ministry of Agriculture were junior
researchers with BSc and MSc qualifications. In 1995 there were three plant breeders with MSc
degree at ARED but their activity was limited to variety selection with the inclusion of some
works on line development and evaluation. Four breeders were BSc holders. In 2000 there
were 14 researchers with BSc and 6 with MSc at NARI conducting research in different
programs (Sorghum Improvement Program, Pearl Millet Improvement Program, Barley and
Wheat Improvement program, Legume Improvement Program). Gradually the number of BSc
holders increased to 28 while that of MSc increased to 8 with the addition of one PhD. NARI
employed 61 full time equivalent researchers in 2000 and 11 of these were plant breeders and
this number remained unchanged. The number of full time equivalent staff in 2000 was referred
from ASTI country profile N 2 published in 2003 while the number of plant breeders was taken
from NARI report as of 2004.



1
  A Full Time Equivalent (FTE) is which is defined as the work done by a person who has any responsibility linked to plant breeding
(genetic enhancement, line development, line evaluation or genetic studies) during one year (365 days). This information does not
include support personal (technicians, laboratory and field workers, students, etc).



                                            Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
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When the total budget and the proportion allocated to plant breeding are considered, there is
significant increment in the allocation of the resources. For example, budget allocated for plant
breeding activities accounted for 13.7% of the total budget in 1995 while this figure improved to
21 and 30% in 2000 and 2005, respectively. This is an indication that there is progress in the
work plan of breeding activities. It is worth to mention that this improvement is mainly due to the
financial support from regional and international research institutions in projects related to plant
breeding activities. However, considering the human allocation, there is a decrease in the
allocation of technical staffs compared to the earlier times. This could be due to demand of
skilled manpower by the whole agricultural sector specialized in plant science and because of
this it can be safely concluded that there was a lot of work loaded on few experts.

In general, the research priority varies from crop to crop and it is believed that most of the major
crops are suffering from biotic and abiotic stresses. Considering these problems as major ones,
the breeding research programs have focused on solving these. Research programs are more or
less consistent with the priorities, both in respect to commodities and constraints.

Agricultural research focused on the selection of improved varieties (cereals and horticultural
crops) and the provision of improved seeds of the most important staple crops and thus, since
1995, efforts were made to introduce sorghum, wheat, pearl millet varieties adaptable to our
situation and as a result several varieties were released to farmers.

Between 1996 and 2000, several on-station and on-farm adaptive research trials were carried
out in farmers’ fields around Halhale, Shambuko, Goluj and Shieb research centers, covering
varietal evaluation on wheat, barley, sorghum and pearl millet. Based on these trials, the
following varieties were selected:
     - Three varieties of sorghum (Dinkimesh, IS 29376 and Gambella), identified as promising
        and released
     - Five varieties of wheat (Boohoi, Australia, Nastazy-105, HAR 1685, and Pavon-76)
     - One variety of pearl millet (ICMV 221) (FAO 2001)

From 2001 up to date, the promising varieties selected and released include 7 varieties of
sorghum ICSV 111 IN (Shambuko, ICSV 210) Bushuka (PP290), P 9401, IESV 92029, laba,
shieb.

In 1995, there was no high priority on grain legumes breeding other than some observational
trials on forage legumes. However, since 2006, with the assistance of Australian experts, trials
are underway on forage legumes and encouraging results were achieved.

Since 2002, maize was considered to be of medium priority and less work was done on its
improvement. However, starting from 2004 it was considered as a high priority crop and
research is done for its improvement.

When the type of breeding activity is considered, the breeding program is working on
improvement and development of materials focusing on making crosses and evaluating
segregating population and evaluating fixed lines introduced from other breeding programs of
the CGIAR centers. The first priority of work is on line development and evaluation because
there are strong links with CGIAR centers that supply newly developed breeding materials for
evaluation. Thus, more resource allocation was done on line evaluation.

Total budget allocated for line development and evaluation in 1995, 2000 and 2005 were
311 000, around 1.3 million, and 2.8 million Nakfa, respectively. Germplasm enhancement



                                Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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budget allocated in 1995, 2000 and 2005 was 725 000, 857 000 and 3.28 million ERN,
respectively.

Though there is limited work on characterization of newly introduced and collected germplasm
by the staff of genetic resource staffs, there is continuous work on this activity. The resource
allocation to sorghum and millet crops is still high because these two crops are considered as
the major staple crops to the people and grown in vast areas of the country.

Regarding plant biotechnology, there is a regional program on marker assisted selection for
striga resistant variety development which started in 2004. There is a regional collaboration
research work on molecular characterization of sorghum landraces, marker assisted selection on
striga resistant variety development using back crossing, wide crosses is going on using
conventional breeding. At institutional level, tissue culture works on virus free potato variety
developments is going on at this time.

Crosses were made on sorghum, pearl millet and maize whereas evaluating segregating
populations was carried out on wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, grass and grain legumes.
Evaluating fixed lines developed by the breeding program included maize, sorghum, pearl millet,
fruits and vegetables. Evaluating fixed lines introduced from other breeding programmes were
carried out on wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet cotton, potato, sweet potato, grass and grain
legumes and fruits and vegetables.

At present, the crossing activity is mainly carried out in the sorghum and millet breeding
programmes. As a result of this, there are number of populations at all generation levels and the
number of trials both on-station and on-farm is higher if compared to other crops. In the case of
root and tuber crops, most of the activities are linked to adaptation trials where it has reached
the level of seed multiplication. Vegetable research focuses on mass selection and inbreeding
and fruit trials are continuous because they are perennial crops. Since 2004, under plant
breeding with full participation of farmers, variety selection on wheat and barley is progressing
with the assistance of ICARDA scientists. Legume crops are also important crops and there are
some participatory trials in farmers’ fields. Materials are collected from farmers’ fields and
introduced from CGIAR centers such as ICARDA.

Generally, it could be said there was no plant biotechnology work conducted in the country
though teaching in the University included plant breeding aspects. Late in 1999, there was a
staff member who did his MSc in tissue culture and he started his work by introducing banana
plantlets from Israel but the work terminated after the plantlets were distributed to farmers.
Initiatives have been taken by FAO to establish the tissue culture laboratory at NARI and one
staff with an MSc degree graduated from Asmara University is assigned to be responsible for
this tissue culture laboratory. Some material support from the Syngenta Foundation for
sustainable agriculture, Switzerland, was also obtained. Some regional collaboration work is
going on in biotechnology, specifically on marker assisted selection for striga resistant variety
development which started in 2004. There is regional collaboration research work on molecular
characterization of sorghum landraces, marker assisted selection on striga resistant variety
development using back crossing, wide crosses is going on using conventional breeding. At
institutional level, tissue culture works on virus free potato variety developments is going on at
this time. Budget allocated for plant biotechnology in 2005 amounted to 164 000 Nfa.

Effective linkage were established with regional networks such as the ASARECA and several
Consultative group on international research (CGIAR) such as ICRISAT and ICARDA, and
linkages with other important research institutions (ILRI, ICRAF, ICIPE and ISNAR) remained
weak. Such linkages could contribute to an improvement in the quality, relevance and cost


                                Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
                                                                                                      11

effectiveness of specific research activities, including the exploitation of opportunities for close
cooperation among researchers working on similar problems in different countries (FAO, 2001).

At present, ICARDA and ICRISAT are supporting the breeding programs both in technical
support and supplying germplasm. There is a significant number of sorghum and millet varieties
released, followed by wheat and potato varieties. From this, it can be suggested that there is a
great need to work more in variety development program. This could be possibly accomplished
by working in close collaboration with CGIAR centres.

Shortage in the number and technical qualification of research staff will constraint NARI from
generating urgently needed technology in the medium term and beyond. Both the number and
qualification of staff are low to have much impact on NARI’s current research goals, objectives
and programmes as the ratio of researchers with university degrees are estimated to be 15-20
per million farmers which is much lower than that of Malawi and Senegal (FAO, 2001). Thus, the
most limiting factor for successful plant breeding work is due to inadequate number of breeders
for each crop. This could be solved by giving training to newly graduate staffs in plant breeding.


4. Assessment of plant breeding and biotechnology capacity
Plant breeding centers
The main plant breeding centers are the three research centers namely Halhale, Goluj, and
Shieb and sub-stations Shambuko, Hagaz that belong to NARI and Hamelmalo center belonging
to the Hamelmalo College of Agriculture (Attachment 1). During the present survey, NARI and
the Hamelmalo College have been surveyed through an ad hoc questionnaire. The
questionnaire of NARI includes data from three main plant breeding centers and four sub-
centers assessed during the survey period. These two institutions represent the main
contributors to the national plant breeding capacity of Eritrea.

The Hamelmalo Agricultural College was established in 2006 and one of the plant breeders from
NARI was transferred and the other plant breeders were at Asmara University.

Recently, the participatory plant breeding program was launched through ICARDA under the
Challenge Program, and farmers’ fields are becoming plant breeding centers. There are five
sites in zoba Debub and one site in zoba Maekel where plant breeding works are going on about
wheat, barley and grain legumes.

The present capacity of national experts does not allow the country to go beyond varietal
selection as facilities to carry out plant breeding are not available. Due to the existence of tissue
culture laboratory, the intention is to produce virus free potatoes and provide to our farmers but
would be extremely difficult to conduct crossing in all the centers due to shortage of skilled
breeders.

The country owns a small national genebank supplying plant genetic material to breeders.
However, this genebank also lacks basic facilities such as deep chest freezers, air-conditioner
for glass house, split air-conditioner for seed stores, vacuum aluminum bag sealer,
dehumidifying seed drier, germination chamber, vacuum seed counter, digital thermometer for
freezers, aluminum bags, plastic rubbers and bottles and unless it is equipped these it will not
serve its purpose. Wheat, sorghum and millet are the main crops that our breeders use from the
national genebank, but there is the need to extent the activities of conservation to all crops that
can be grown in the country. To this effect we need to improve the facilities of the national
genebank to the level that is capable to keep seeds of all crops. Hamelmalo is the newly


                                Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
12

established plant breeding centre which needs to be well equipped with plant breeding
materials.


Number and educational level of the scientists
Plant breeders and biotechnologists were surveyed both in number, educational level and age
range (Attachment 2). Since 1985 there were two MSc holders in agronomy working in the field
of plant breeding in which one of them received his PhD in 1990. After independence (1991) the
majority of staff at NARI and College of Agriculture was holding BSc and MSc degree and out of
the total number of researchers approximately 7% were involved in plant breeding activities. In
2000 the number of plant breeders holding MSc degree training on wheat, barley, sorghum,
millet and grain legumes increased to 6 and then to 9 in 2005 and this situation remained the
same in 2006 because of in and out of plant breeders from the institutes. At NARI, Out of 61
staff members, 11 were plant breeders which is around 16% of the total researchers while one
breeder from NARI and one from Asmara University are working in the college of Hamelmalo.
The number of BSc holders in plant science who are working as assistant researchers in plant
breeding is increasing. For effective plant breeding activities, highly trained personnel are
required. Therefore, training is needed to those already involved in plant breeding activities. In
2005, there were three PhD holders in plant breeding out of which two were from the College of
Agriculture and one from NARI.

In plant biotechnology, two NARI staff finished their MSc studies in biotechnology in 2000 and
2005 and currently one is working in crop improvement program and the other in tissue culture
laboratory.


Total budget and proportion by crop breeding programs
The total budget allocated for plant breading was very small at the beginning as enough trained
personnel were not in place. In the case of NARI the first four years when trials on variety
selection was going on with sorghum, wheat and barley, the budget allocated was not greater
than 14% of the whole budget allocated for research. As the policy of the government remains to
be food security and poverty alleviation, more time and effort have been given in developing
disease and pest resistance, drought tolerance, adaptable and high yielding varieties. As the
result the budget allocation for plant breeding have increased to around 30% of the total
research budget by the end of 2005 (Attachment 3).

At the University of Asmara, most of the plant breeding research was carried out by project
funds which makes it difficult to exactly know the budget allocated for this purpose. According to
the experts working on this field their budget estimation was 50-100 000 local currency
(Attachment 3).


Resource allocation by crop breeding programs
Attachment 5 shows resource allocation per crop breeding programmes2. NARI is involved in
making crosses in sorghum and millet while evaluating segregating populations was conducted
on wheat, maize, sorghum, millet, oil seeds and potatoes and legumes. Evaluation of fixed lines
developed by the breeding program is carried out on maize, sorghum and millet. Evaluation of
fixed lines introduced from other breeding programmes is going for wheat, maize, sorghum,

2
  Data have been calculated as total FTEs of plant breeders of each institution multiplied by the percentage of resources allocated to
each crop and crop-group by the given institution. It does not necessarily represent the number of plant breeders working in a given
crop or crop-group but it reflects the FTE breeders based on the resources allocation.



                                            Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
                                                                                                      13

millet, cotton, potato, sweet potato, and vegetables. Most of the introduced lines are coming
from the International Agricultural Research Institutions and considerable achievement have
been made in the identification of lines that are more suitable to our conditions as indicated in
the number of varieties released to farmers.


Main breeding programmes
The main breeding programs in the country are variety development using adaptive research,
improvement of landraces using different breeding techniques, development of populations by
introgressing landraces with introduced materials (Attachment 5 bis). In 1995 majority of work
focused on germplasm enhancement followed by line development and evaluation. In 2000,
more focus was given to line development and evaluation followed by germplasm enhancement
while in 2005 plant breeding activities was dominated by line development and evaluation. The
college of agriculture was initially involved in sorghum variety development as a continuation of
that of NARI and currently is involved in characterization of landraces.


Resource allocation by crop and improvement activities
The allocation of resources across various research lines is a significant policy decision; hence
detailed survey information was collected on the number of full time equivalent researchers
working in specific commodity and thematic areas (Attachment 4). In 2000, 23% of the 86 full
time researchers conducted plant breeding works while in 2005 the percentage increased to
25.5%. The number of plant breeders at the college of agriculture is still insignificant. This figure
includes the staff working on vegetable improvement program, forage improvement program.
Out of these 16% goes to crop and the rest to vegetable and forage experts.

At NARI the major plant breeding program focuses on improvement of priority crops such as
sorghum, millet, maize, barley, and wheat and grain legumes. In 1997, four BSc holders in plant
science were trained in plant breeding specifically on sorghum, millet, barley and wheat, and
legumes. After completing their MSc program, they joined the department of research and
started plant breeding on their respective commodities in the mentioned breeding centers. Along
this side new graduate students from the University were joining as assistant researchers.


Budget distribution by major areas of the breeding research
In 1995 the NARI budget allocation for line development and evaluation was around 30%. This
activity continued to receive more attention; as a result, its budget was as high as 60% in 2000
and 85% in 2005. Germplasm enhancement work was 70% in 1995 but reduced to 10% in 2005
(Attachment 6). The main reason for its reduction is that introduction of exotic materials and
collection of germplasm was minimized significantly. Characterization work is limited but done
every time. In 2005 the budget allocation for plant biotechnology works is estimated to be 5% of
the total budget (Attachment 6). This investment was done for the construction of the tissue
culture laboratory both at the University and NARI. No plant breeding activities were carried out
at the HCA and the recently started sorghum development program (2005) is the continuation
that the plant breeder who was transferred from NARI to Hamelmalo is engaged in. Thus the
data reflected in the questionnaire answered by the senior plant breeder from the Hamelmalo
College of Agriculture need to be explained as part of NARI’s data.




                                Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
14

Resource allocation by crop and improvement activities
As food security is number one priority of the country, more emphasis is given in developing high
yielding crop variety. Thus, more line development and line evaluation works is going on in both
institutions. The trend in line development and line evaluation is positively increasing since 2000.


Budget distribution by major areas of the breeding research
As the research institution was established in 1994, focus was given to germplasm
enhancement with less emphasis to line development. Due to this more budgets was allocated
to germplasm development (725 000) as compared to budget allocated to line development
(311 000). In the later years research linkage with International Agricultural Research Institutions
such as ICRISAT, ICARDA, ILRI etc was broadened which assisted NARI in receiving different
lines and through time line development and evaluation occupied a larger portion of our
agronomists and plant breeders’ task. Accordingly, the budget allocated for line development
and evaluation increased from 1.3 million in 2000 to 2.7 million in 2005 and this trend is still
increasing. It is worth mentioning that line development trend in crops especially on wheat,
maize, sorghum, millet, and potato is getting higher while that of vegetables and forages remain
the same. No data was presented in question 7 of the questionnaire from the collage of
agriculture at the University of Asmara. However, they indicated their involvement in variety
selection from locally collected crops.


Involvement of breeding programs in biotechnology research
No biotechnology activities were carried out until 2004, although teaching related to
biotechnology was going on for undergraduate students. Tissue culture laboratory was
established at the University in 2004 and basic tissue culture training was given. A second round
of training was also given in 2006.

Training course in the Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (Egypt) was given on
plant tissue culture and transformation techniques while biosafety assessment and regulation of
agricultural biotechnology at the IPBO Institute University of Ghent, Belgium. A graduate student
from NARI was trained for his MSc program with the following research title: “In vitro virus
eradication and production of high health status of potatoes” at the Asmara university. He is in
charge of the tissue culture laboratory at NARI established in 2005.

The tissue culture laboratory unit will soon start to work on production of virus free potato tubers
when all the necessary facilities will be in place. A consultancy work was done on developing the
National Biosafety Framework for Eritrea. Five documents were produced on biotechnology and
biosafety assessment in this consultancy work. They are a) biotechnology/biosafety assessment
report b) National biosafety framework for Eritrea c) Proposed National biosafety policy for
Eritrea d) Proposed biosafety legislation for Eritrea e) proposed guidelines for bisafety in Eritrea.
NARI in collaboration with the regional research networks under the umbrella of ASARECA is
making research in the development of striga resistant sorghum variety through marker assisted
technology.


Number of crosses, segregating populations, trials and locations
At the National Agricultural Research Institute, the number of crosses made was 30 and a total
of 229 segregating populations were developed using conventional breeding. A total of 65 trials
have been done in 27 testing locations for all the staple crops (Attachment 7). Research works
was practically nil before the independence of the country in 1993. Taking into consideration the


                                 Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
                                                                                                     15

duration of the activity and limited number of plant breeders in the country, the trials so far
conducted have brought good progress in developing high yielding varieties tolerant to disease
and pest and thus we may consider this as a big achievement. In fact, within the last 10 years,
NARI managed to release wheat, sorghum, millet, and barley and chickpea varieties which
showed impact in improving the yield per hectare which means great benefit to farmers.
However, as the country is still encountered with so many problems, there is no way to rate this
as high and more work need to be done in the future provided that increased number of qualified
plant breeders are in place.



Source of germplasm used in the breeding program
The main source of germplasm used in the breeding program is from farmers’ field where by-
frequent visits were carried out to all zobas to collect samples to be preserved in the national
gene bank which was established in 1994. Relevant crop species which were kept at the
Ethiopian gene bank were also returned to their original place. Introduction of considerable
amount of germplasm from ICARDA was done mostly on wheat, lentil and chickpea, and
sorghum and pearl millet germplasm from ICRISAT was evaluated. Introduction of forage seeds
was conducted by Australian scientists in 2006. Currently there are 4 000 accessions collected
at the national gene bank. It is worth to mention that 40% of the genetic materials collected were
from the country while 55% from CGIAR centers and the remaining 5% through bilateral
agreements and through participation in germplasm evaluation networks (Attachment 8).


Environmental breeding priorities
Research stations where breeding is conducted are located in different agro-ecological zones.
These agro-ecological zones have different climatic requirements (Attachment 1). Having these
factors into consideration, research priorities were setup to work on the major crops that are
grown in the specific agro-ecological zones. In the highlands the main problem is identification of
wheat varieties resistant to rusts as our local varieties are susceptible to this disease. The
purpose is also to identify early maturing varieties as most of the time the rainy season starts
late and ends early. In addition breeding for quality traits was given priority for wheat. In the
lowlands most of the fields are highly infested with striga as the result production of sorghum is
sometimes impossible because of complete crop failure. So the breeding program is intended to
identify varieties resistant/tolerant to striga. In general, the main breeding program is to find
varieties resistant/tolerant to abiotic and biotic stress (Attachment 9a).


Required help from the international community to increase efficient use of plant genetic
resources
The most important help is capacity building in modern plant breeding techniques i.e. training
program on biotechnology tools, conventional breeding methods. Moreover, there is a need of
back stopping from international research institutions. Facilitating germplasm exchange and
access to new biotechnology tools is another important point that can strengthen the program.
There is a need to strengthen national program capacity through investments. To actualize the
indicated program, financial support needs to come at the front line.


Number of varieties released by the organization
Under improved seed development strategy, NARI has released 5 wheat, 1 barley, 8 sorghum, 2
pearl millet and 1 chick pea varieties in spite of the fact that the program encountered many
short comings (Attachment 11). Breeder and foundation seed of the released varieties are


                               Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
16

produced every year and deliver to extension staffs of the MOA and NGOs as backup. There are
also promising varieties which are expected to be released in the near future. These include 4
sorghum, 2 pearl millet, 3 barley, 3 maize and 5 wheat, 4 chickpea and one lentil varieties.


Most limiting aspect of the success of the crop breeding program
Limiting aspects to the success of the breeding programmes were enquired in the two surveyed
institutions (Attachment 12). The most limiting aspect of the success of the breeding program is
inadequate number of breeders for each crop and thus upgrading and capacity building in the
area of plant breeding for the existing staff is crucial. The other limiting factor could be the seed
system practiced. Currently there is no private enterprise dealing with quality seed production.
This could be one of the problems that reduce production and productivity because users could
not get quality and pure seed in a sustainable way. It is worth to mention that a village based
seed enterprise is now initiated by ICARDA scientists under the challenge program. This
program started in 2005 with 10 volunteer farmers and the actual field work started in 2007. In
adequate knowledge level of plant breeding strategy is also a limit for the success of plant
breeding program. Lack of financial resources to carry out field and laboratory experiment is also
one of the limiting factors for the success of plant breeding program.



5. Conclusions
Survey works revealed that plant breeding program was not strong until the independence of the
country in 1991. It is true that the College of Agriculture within the University of Asmara was
involved in plant breeding research, apart from giving teaching on plant science, from 1985 up to
1989. When the war situation intensified the activities were terminated and the College was
transferred to Ethiopia. The Research and Statistics Division within the Ministry Of Fisheries was
mostly involved in gathering information related to marine population and the effect of
environmental changes on the ecosystem. Therefore, plant breeding activities are dominantly
done at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).

Plant breeding works became active when the Research Department was established in 1994
and to be more specific breeding works started in 1996. As Eritrea has an arid and semi arid
climate, the major constraints of production among others are drought, pest and disease, lack of
improved varieties etc. To overcome the biotic and abiotic stresses, NARI focused on variety
selection based on the local landraces and exotic varieties. Breeding activities eventually moved
to line evaluation, crossing of land races with exotic materials and evaluating segregating
population and evaluating fixed lines introduced from other breeding program of the CGIAR
centers.

Since 2004, plant breeding activities with full participation of farmers was launched with the
assistance of ICARDA scientists and though this will continue up to 2008 the results so far
achieved are very encouraging. Considering the policy of the Government to increase food
security, development of improved high yielding variety got more focus/importance as the result
the breeding program was given more emphasis by working on priority crops such as wheat,
barley, sorghum, pearl millet, and maize and grain legumes. Taking into account the limited
number and quality of researchers involved in plant breeding activities which is still a big
problem in making big changes, the progress so far achieved could be rated high. Indeed, within
the last 10 years, NARI made a significant progress in developing 5 wheat, 1 barley, 8 sorghum,
2 pearl millet and one chickpea improved varieties. These varieties are adaptable, high yielding,
tolerant to disease and pests. The released varieties are currently at the hands of many farmers.


                                 Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
                                                                                                      17

Yield records for the last three years revealed that the improved varieties were 50-100%
superior as compared to the local varieties. Therefore, plant breeding program in Eritrea is
bringing more benefit to the farmers and the Government is aware of the advantage and
importance of this program.

In spite of these, the budget allocation from the government side for plant breeding program as
well as other research activities is negligible. Most of the budget for this purpose was and still
covered by projects which make it unsustainable. In spite of all the problems encountered, the
overall effort of our breeders is commendable as our farmers are getting real benefit in improving
their economic situation. In conclusion it can be suggested that there is a great need to work
more in variety development program in order to boost crop production. This could be possibly
accomplished working in close collaboration with CGIAR centres to render their financial as well
as technical support and capacity building in the area of plant breeding.


Recommendations
For plant breeding program to be effective and efficient there need to be a strong financial as
well as technical support from partners. Because the policy support is generally in place,
research organizations should design and implement strategies on how to make plant breeding
program more successful to bring economic changes to the country. In order to get a positive
response from policy makers, there is a need to respond to existing policy while informing policy
change and institutional development.

Relevant organizations should work in close collaboration with the national research
organizations to upgrade the breeding program financially as well as giving technical support.
This means the national, regional and international partnership needs to be strengthened. Need
to facilitate cross boundary exchange of germplasm and make available facilities and equipment
necessary for research activities as well as access to information. Short and long-term training
on plant breeding programs need to strengthen in order to make sure that highly trained
personnel are in place. Research institutions need to recognize that more budget be allocated to
plant breeding works. The national gene bank must be equipped with all necessary facilities to
conserve plant genetic resources for short and long term and be a good standard source of
materials to the breeders.



6. Options for strengthening capacity to use plant genetic resources
       Capacity building both short and long term training related to plant breeding both in
       conventional and molecular biology is crucial. In order to carry out sound research on
       plant breeding the existing staff need to upgrade their skills upto the PhD level. There is
       also a need to produce junior plant breeders who can get on-job training by their seniors
       by being assigned in the plant breeding centers. To date the senior experts are moving
       from one site to another to supervise the breeding activities which we believe may not be
       as such effective as it may be difficult to capture the right time to invigilate the work the
       juniors are performing. Therefore, training needs to be organized in which an expert may
       visit Eritrea to give training to our junior staff on top of the senior experts who can provide
       short training courses.
       Exchange of germplasm is believed to be one way of strengthening our plant breeding
       works as enough materials can be collected from CGIAR centres. As indicated in the
       table, 55 to 95% of our sources of germplasm are introduced from CGIAR centres. These
       clearly indicate that we heavily depend on them to acquire germplasm. Formal or


                                Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
18

       informal contact need to be maintained with the concerned institutions to make sure that
       the flow of materials will be seamless.
       Financial support- Lack of financial resources to carry out field and laboratory experiment
       is one of the limiting factors for the success of plant breeding program. Project proposals
       need to be developed and seek funds from donors interested in funding such activities.
       Strengthen national, regional and international partnership. It is necessary to create
       strong linkage with the HCA in order to exchange experiences and learn from each other
       as well as maintain good relationship with regional research institutions (ASARECA) and
       establish strong linkages with international research institutions (ILRI, ICRAF, ICIPE and
       ISNAR).
       Strengthen the national gene bank in terms of facilities and human power. To date there
       is one senior researcher and three junior researchers assigned in the gene bank unit.
       NARI’s intention is to replicate the existing accessions to secure the available seeds but
       so far with no success due to shortage of funds. NARI is seeking financial support to
       build a new gene bank to make a replica in Asmara but up to date with no success.


7. References
Beintema, N.M., T. Okubay & T. Debass. 2003. Eritrea. ASTI Country Brief No. 2. International
Food Policy Research Institute and the Department of Agricultural Research and Human
Resource        Development       of    the     Ministry     of    Agriculture.   Available   at:
http://www.asti.cgiar.org/pdf/eritrea_cb2.pdf.
FAO, 2001. Terminal report on project ‘Strengthening the agricultural research and extension
division’, project findings and recommendations.
Ministry of Agriculture, 1993. Agricultural sector review.
Ministry of Agriculture and ISNAR, 1995. Framework for strategic master plan for national
agricultural research.
Ministry of Agriculture. 1997. Medium Term Plan and strategy for National Agricultural Research.
Ministry of Agriculture, 2002. Medium Term Plan and strategy for National Agricultural Research.
NARI. 2000-2005. Annual reports
Ministry of Agriculture, 2002. Agricultural Sector Policy and Strategy Framework.




                                Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
                                                                                                                                                  19

8. Attachments
Attachment 1: Surveyed plant breeding centers

Parent                   Station                                Agro-ecology                 Zoba                           Mandate
organisation
National                 Halhale                                Highland, mid-land           Debub                          Sorghum, wheat, barley,
Agricultural                                                                                                                legumes, maize, fruits and
Research                                                                                                                    vegetables, forage crops
Institution (NARI)       Goluj                                  Western lowland              Gash barka                     Sorghum, pearl millet,
                                                                                                                            sesame, cotton
                         Shieb                                  Eastern lowland              Northern Red Sea               Sorghum, millet, date palm
                         Shambuko (sub-station)                 Western lowland              Gash-Barka                     Sorghum, Millet, legumes,
                                                                                                                            vegetables, Forage crops
                         Hagaz (sub-station)                    Western lowland              Anseba                         Sorghum, millet, vegetables
                         gahtelay                               Easternlowland               Northern Red Sea               Citrus, datepalm
                         Tekreret                               Westernlowland               Gash Barka                     Mango
Hamelmalo                Hamelmalo                              Western lowland              Anseba                         Sorghum, millet, fruits and
Agricultural                                                                                                                vegetables
College




Attachment 2: Number of scientists and their educational level

                                         Plant breeders                              Biotechnologists
Year           1985        1990              1995         2000            2005                           2000              2005
PhD                  0           1              2               2               3                           0                     0
MSc                  2           1              3               6               9                           1                     1
BSc                  0           0              4            14                28                           0                     0
Total                2           2              9            22                40                           1                     1


Details on the age range and educational level of scientists in 2005

                           Age range                      PhD           MSc                BSc           Total
 Plant breeders            30-39                            0              6                28             34
                           40-49                            1              0                 0                 2
                           >=50                             2              3                 0                 5
 Biotechnologists          >=50                             0              1                 0                 1



Attachment 3: Budget and the proportion that was allocated to plant breeding activities

Institution                          Financial resources (Nakfa)           1995                   2000              2005
NARI                                 Total research budget                7,550,407              10,067,209        11,162,991
                                     Plant breeding                       1,036,330               2,141,959         3,278,021
                                     %                                              13.7                  21               29.9
Hamelmalo Agricultural               Total research budget                          N/A                  N/A               N/A
College
                                     Plant breeding                            100,000             100,000            50,000
                                     %                                              N/A                  N/A               N/A




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Attachment 4: Resource allocation (human and financial) for plant breeding activities by
crop or crop-group

 Crop or crop-group      Crop(s)                                                Allocation                                    % must add
                                                      Germplasm               Line development        Line evaluation            to
                                                     enhancement
                                                    %        Trend             %         Trend         %          Trend
 Wheat                   ---                        10         3               40          2           50           1             100
 Rice                    ---                                                                                                      100
 Maize                   ---                        5              3           20          2           70          1              100
 Sorghum and Millet                                 10             3           20          2           70          1              100
 Others small grains     finger millet                                                                100          1              100
 Oilseeds                sesame                                                                       100          3              100
 Fiber crops             cotton                                                                       100          3              100
 Roots and Tubers        potato, sweet                                                                100          1              100
                         potato
 Forages                 grass, legume              30             2                                   70          1              100
 Others grain            chickpea, faba                                                               100          1              100
 legumes                 bean, lentil
 Vegetables and          pepper, tomato,                                                              100          3              100
 Fruits                  onion, garlic,
                         orange, lemon,
                         mandarin

Note: Trend values can be 1 if increasing, 2 if the same and 3 if decreasing since 1995



Attachment 5: Allocation of the resources by crop or crop-group from 1995 to 2005

 Crop or crop-group                  1995           2000           2005
 Forage                                0.1            0.9              1.8
 Maize                                   0            0.4              0.6
 Miscellaneous                           6           15.7          26.1
 Oilseeds                                0               0             0.6
 Other grain legumes                   0.1            0.2              0.3
 Roots and Tubers                        0            0.6              2.3
 Sorghum and millet                    2.3            3.1              4.8
 Vegetables and Fruits                 0.1            0.6              2.6
 Wheat                                 0.3            0.4              0.9
 Total                                   9               22            40


Attachment 5bis: Main breeding programmes

 Crop or crop-group            Making crosses            Evaluating segregating          Evaluating fixed lines            Evaluating fixed lines
                                                                    populations     developed by the breeding             introduced from other
                                                                                                  programme               breeding programmes
 Forage                                      -                               Yes                              -                              Yes
 Maize                                       -                               Yes                            Yes                             Yes
 Oilseeds                                    -                               Yes                              -                             Yes
 Other grain legumes                         -                               Yes                              -                             Yes
 Roots and tubers                            -                               Yes                              -                             Yes
 Sorghum and millet                      Yes                                 Yes                            Yes                             Yes
 Vegetables and fruits                   Yes                                   -                            Yes                             Yes
 Wheat                                       -                               Yes                              -                             Yes




                                                 Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
                                                                                                                                   21

Attachment 6: Allocation of the resources by research areas versus the whole budget of
NARI

Research areas                    1995                                 2000                              2005
                        %     Total budget (Nakfa)     %          Total budget (Nakfa)     %        Total budget (Nakfa)
Line development        30                  310,899          60               1,285,175        85               2,786,317
& evaluation
Plant                   -                          -          -                        -       5                     163,901
biotechnology
Germplasm               70                  725,431          40                  856,785       10                    327,802
enhancement
Total allocation        100               1,036,330      100                 2,141,959      100                    3,278,021

Note: There was no budget allocation in 2000 from NARI. It was only MSc training using tissue culture under FAO
capacity building program



Attachment 7: Average number of crosses, populations, trials and locations managed for
every crop and/or crop-group

                                                                                                       Activity
                                                                                       Number of
                                                                                      segregating                                 Number of
Crop or crop-group             Crop(s)                              Number of
                                                                                      populations            Number of trials   locations used
                                                                  crosses made
                                                                                     considering all                             for field trials
                                                                                      generations
Wheat                                       ---                         -                  -                       18                   6
Rice                                        ---                         -                  -                        -
Maize                                       ---                         6                  3                        5                   2
Sorghum and Millet                                                     24                 226                      20                   5
Others small grains            finger millet                                                                        1                   1
Oilseeds                       sesame                                                                               1                   1
Fiber crops                    cotton                                                                              1                    1
Roots and Tubers               potato, sweet potato                                                                 1                   1
Forages                        grass, legume                                                                        2                   2
Others grain legumes           chickpea, faba bean, lentil                                                         15                   5
Vegetables and Fruits          pepper, tomato, onion,                                                              6                    3
                               garlic, orange, lemon,
                               mandarin




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         Attachment 8: Main sources of germplasm (%) used in the breeding program

                                                                                             Germplasm source (%)
                                                                       Introduction     Introduction through                     Public
                                                           National
Crop or crop-group        Crop(s)       Local germplasm               through bi or        participation in       CGIAR     organizations in   Private   Farmers
                                                          germplasm                                                                                                 Total
                                              bank                      multilateral   germplasm evaluation    gene banks    industrialized    sector    material
                                                             bank
                                                                       agreements             networks                          country
Wheat                       ---                -             10               -                    -               70              -              -        20       100
Rice                        ---                               -               -                    -                                                                100
Maize                       ---                              20               -                    -               75                                        5      100
Sorghum and Millet                                           10              3                    2                55                                       30      100
Others small grains   finger millet                                                                                95                                       5       100
Oilseeds              sesame                                                                                                                               100      100
Fiber crops           cotton                                                                                                                               100      100
Roots and Tubers      potato, sweet                                                                                                             100
                                                                                                                                                                    100
                      potato
Forages               grass, legume                          20                                                                   80                                100
Others grain          chickpea, faba                                                                              60                                       40
                                                                                                                                                                    100
legumes               bean, lentil
Vegetables and        pepper, tomato,                                                                                             100
Fruits                onion, garlic,
                                                                                                                                                                    100
                      orange, lemon,
                      mandarin




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                                                                                                                   23



Attachment 9: Environment breeding priorities by organization and crops

   Crop or crop-group       Crop(s)                 Priorities                                              2005
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                       LP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses    HP
   Wheat                    ---
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses     HP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                              HP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                       -
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses    -
   Rice                     ---
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses     -
                                                    Breeding for quality traits
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      HP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Maize                    ---
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    LP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             HP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      MP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Sorghum and Millet       --
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    HP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                              MP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      LP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Other small grains       Finger millet
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    MP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             LP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      LP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Oilseeds                 Sesame
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    HP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             HP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      LP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Fiber crops              Cotton
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    HP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             HP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      LP
                            Potato, sweet           Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   MP
   Roots and Tubers
                            potato                  Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    HP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             HP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      LP
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Forages                  Grass, legume
                                                    Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    LP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             HP
                                                    Breeding for favorable environment                      LP
                            Chickpea, faba          Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   HP
   Other grain legumes
                            bean, lentil            Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    HP
                                                    Breeding for quality traits                             HP
                            Pepper, tomato,         Breeding for favorable environment                      HP
                            onion, garlic,          Breeding for resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses   MP
   Fruits and Vegetables
                            orange, lemon,          Breeding for resistance/tolerance to biotic stresses    HP
                            mandarin                Breeding for quality traits                             HP


Notes: HP is high priority, MP is medium priority and LP is low priority.




                                            Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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Attachment 10: Required assistance from the international community

score          Required assistance from the international community
1              Promoting training programmes on biotechnological tools
1              Promoting training programmes on conventional breeding methods
4              Helping preparing projects for funding
2.5            Facilitating germplasm exchange
2.5            Facilitating access to new biotechnological tools
2              Strengthening national programme capacity through investments



Attachment 11: Varieties released by crops and institution

Crop               Location                  variety                       Purpose         Organization
Sorghum            Central Highland          IESV 92029                    Injera          NARI
                                             ICSV 111 IN                   Injera          NARI
                   Western Lowland           Shambiko (ICSV 210)           Injera          NARI
                                             Bushuka (PP290)               Injera          NARI
                                             ICSV 111 IN                   Injera          NARI
                                             P 9401                        Injera          NARI
                   Eastern Lowland           Laba                          Injera          NARI
                                             Shieb                         Injera          NARI
Pearl millet       Lowlands (Anseba,         Kona                          Injera          NARI
                   Gash Barka)
                                             Hagaz                         Injera          NARI
Barley             Highland                  Tsaeda                        Multi-purpose   NARI
                                             Holker (Malt)                 brewery         NARI
                                             Proctor (Malt)                Brewery         NARI
                                             Beka(Malt)                    Brewery         NARI
Wheat              Highland                  Pavon 76                      Bread           NARI
                                             Halahale                      Bread           NARI
                                             Boohoi                        Durum           NARI
Chickpea           highland                  Desi                          Muti-           NARI
                                                                           purpose

Source: Annual report 2005. National Agricultural Research Institute




                                        Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea
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Attachment 12: Limiting aspects for the success of the plant breeding programs

 Aspects                                                                               2005     1980s
 Inadequate number of breeders for each crop                                             1        1
 Inadequate experimental fields conditions
 Inadequate access to recent literature                                                  5        5
 Inadequate knowledge level of the general plant breeding strategies                     2
 Limited access to international genetic resources
 Limited access to national public and/or private genetic resources
 Lack of knowledge about participatory plant breeding techniques
 Lack of knowledge about the use of molecular technique support plant                             3
 breeding programmes
 Inadequate availability of laboratory infrastructure to carry out experiments           3        4
 using advanced plant breeding techniques
 Lack of financial resources to carry out field and laboratory experiments               4        2
 Lack of support from the international community, including organizations like
 Centres of the CGIAR system, FAO, etc

Notes: “1” is the most important and “5” is the least important.



Attachment 13: Crop varieties released from 1984 to 2005 including arranged by crop and
originator

Crop                 Location                    variety                          originator
Sorghum              Central Highland            IESV 92029                       ICRISAT
                                                 ICSV 111 IN                      ICRISAT
                                                 IS 29376                         ICRISAT
                     Western Lowland             Shambiko (ICSV 210)              ICRISAT
                                                 Bushuka (PP290)                  ICRISAT
                                                 ICSV 111 IN                      ICRISAT
                                                 P 9401                           INTSORMIL
                                                 Dinkimash                        ETHIOPIA
                                                 Gambella                         ETHIOPIA
                     Eastern Lowland             Laba                             ICRISAT
                                                 Shieb                            ICRISAT
Pearl millet         Lowlands (Anseba,           Kona                             ICRISAT
                     Gash Barka)
                                                 Hagaz                            NARI
Barley               Highland                    Tsaeda                           NARI
                                                 Holker (Malt)                    ETHIOPIA
                                                 Proctor (Malt)                   ETHIOPIA
                                                 Scarlet (Malt)                   GERMANY
Wheat                Highland                    Pavon 76                         NARI
                                                 Australia                        NARI
                                                 Nastazy-105                      NARI
                                                 Halhale                          NARI
                                                 Boohoi                           NARI
Chickpea             highland                    Desi                             NARI




                                          Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)
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Attachment 14: List of people contacted
Mr. Negusse Abraha
Senior researcher pearl millet and maize breeder
National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI)
Tel 291-1-159801
P.O.Box 4627
Asmara, Eritrea

Mr. Efrem Ghebrezghiabher
Senior researcher Sorghum breeder
NARI

Mr. Amanuel Mahdere
Plant genetic resource head
NARI

Mr. Biniam Tesfagabre
Tissue culture expert
NARI

Mr. Iskender Tesfay
Forage expert
NARI

Mr. Tesfamichael Abraha
Director Research and Development and Sorghum breeder
Hamelmalo Agricultural College
Tel 291-1-401229
P.O.Box 397
e-mail tesfangl@yahoo.com
Keren Eritrea

Dr. Bissrat Ghebru (plant breeder)
Currently working as a Director Consultancy, Training, and Testing Center (CTTC)
University of Asmara
Tel 291-1-161926
P.O.Box 1220
Asmara, Eritrea

Dr. Tadesse Mehari (Biotechnology expert)
Currently Acting president of the University of Asmara
Tel 291-1-161932
P.O.Box 1220
Asmara Eritrea

Mr Awet Yemane
Director Coastal and Island Management Division
Ministry of Fisheries
Tel 292-1-552010
P.O.Box 27
Massawa, Eritrea


                                Report on Plant Breeding and related Biotechnology Capacity – Eritrea