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Wheat Environment

Ethiopia is the largest wheat producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Wheat is one of the major cereal crops grown in the Ethiopian highlands. At present, wheat is produced solely under rainfed conditions. Of the current total wheat production area, 75% is located in Arsi, Bale and Shewa regions. Small amount is produced in the rest of the north and south regions. [Crop Variety Register, 2010]

Altitude plays an important role in the distribution of wheat production through its influence on rainfall, temperature, and presence of diseases. In Arsi, Bale and Shewa regions, the soil, moisture and disease conditions within the range of 1900-2300 m altitude zone are favorable for the production of early and intermediate maturing varieties of bread wheat. This is estimated to comprise 25% of the total wheat production area, while the remaining 75% falls in the 2300-2700 m altitude zone. There, early, intermediate and late varieties are grown. Soil types used for wheat production vary from well-drained fertile soils to waterlogged heavy Vertisols. [Crop Variety Register, 2010]

Durum wheat is indigenous to Ethiopia and it has been under cultivation since ancient times. Ethiopia is considered to be the center of genetic diversity of this crop. It is traditionally grown on heavy black clay soils (Vertisols) of the central and northern highlands of Ethiopia between 1800-2800 meters above sea level. Accurate statistics on area and production of durum wheat in the country are difficult to obtain since they are lumped together with bread wheat. [Crop Variety Register, 2010]

Emmer wheat, localy known as Aja, is used in various ways. Some is ground into flour and baked into special bread (Kita). Some is crushed and cooked with milk or water to make porridge (Genfo). And some is mixed with boiling water and butter to produce gruel. With emmer's high protein content and smooth and easily digestible starch, infants and nursing mothers especially favor the gruel. [Crop Variety Register, 2010]

Wheat-growing farm in Ethiopia is in average about 1.2 ha (ranging from 0.4 - 15 ha) [2012].