International Winter Wheat Improvement Program

Place: turkey, Europe
Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products
Total Budget: € 350.000,00 | Period: From December 2012 To


International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP) is a joint program between the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and International Center for Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA). The Program main objective is to develop winter/facultative wheat germplasm for the region of Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA). IWWIP also facilitates the winter wheat germplasm exchange for the global breeding community. Furthermore, IWWIP has been organising during the wheat breeding stage some training organisations especially for CWANA region in order to increase collaboration and cooperation other countries for their capacity building and breeding programs.


Bahri Dagdas International Agricultural Research Institute - Turkey

Lead applicant

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center - Mexico

Initiative partner

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is the world’s premier center for research, development, and training in maize and wheat and in farming systems for those two essential food crops. From its headquarters in Mexico and offices throughout the developing world, the center works with partners worldwide to reduce poverty and hunger by sustainably increasing the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems. CIMMYT maintains one of the world’s largest and most diverse maize and wheat seed collections and is best known for work leading to the Green Revolution—the widespread adoption of improved crop varieties and farming practices that saved millions of lives across Asia and for which CIMMYT’s Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. CIMMYT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium and receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks, and other public and private agencies. CIMMYT exists to deliver the best seed, agronomy, and agricultural research to farmers in the developing world. As each farm is unique, CIMMYT has created a mix of products and services, or tools, for farmers.

International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas - Lebanon

Initiative partner

International Winter Wheat Improvement program (IWWIP) established in 1986 as a cooperative development partnership between Turkey public research sector and two international non-profit research organizations (CIMMYT and ICARDA) established global network of winter wheat germplasm exchange comprising more than 120 cooperators in more than 50 countries. The exchange of varieties and breeding lines between the breeding programs resulted in faster utilization of breeding advances and higher yield gains. IWWIP breeding program in Turkey develops new broadly adapted, high-yielding germplasm which is distributed to cooperators in the region and made available for production and commercial use. IWWIP impacted wheat production and farming communities in the target region of Central and West Asia through release of more than 60 new improved varieties in 11 countries presently cultivated on total area exceeding 2 mln ha.

The main innovation is the partnership approach in developing, adoption and utilization of winter wheat varieties. Turkey public research sector, CIMMYT and ICARDA have advanced wheat research and breeding programs with international scope. These three partners united to establish IWWIP which utilizes the national facilities of the research institutes of Turkey Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and research potential of Turkish scientists, CIMMYT and ICARDA in one integrated program. The program in Turkey is connected with the majority of winter wheat breeding programs in the world through exchange of new breeding lines and varieties. IWWIP cooperators annually send their new germplasm to Turkey for evaluation, multiplication and inclusion into international nursery which is sent to all cooperators. This innovation allows fast and unlimited access of all winter wheat breeders to new breeding achievements.

IWWIP Breeding Methodology for Yellow Rust Resistance IWWIP Breeding Methodology was described only one table for Rust Resistance for the program.

Food security in the region of central and West Asia has been the main driving force for IWWIP establishment and operation. The mandate of ICARDA and CIMMYT is to help the developing countries to increase crop production in sustainable manner with the main emphasis on poor rural communities. Out of eleven target countries of the region only Turkey and Kazakhstan have been self-sufficient in wheat production. Iran and Uzbekistan have reach self-sufficiency only recently while countries with large population such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan remains net importers of wheat grain. On the other hand the capacity to develop new varieties and cultivation technologies is very limited. Some of the countries did not have the expertise of growing wheat as they were focused on cotton production prior to independence in 1991. The external assistance from IWWIP in new varieties, training and integration of national scientists into global research community is highly needed. 

Some photos from our training programs IWWIP supports Central-West Asian and North African countries for breeding program and variety release and also training in order to increase their self sufficiency.

Tangible results achieved by IWWIP:
1. More than 120 winter wheat breeding and research programs in 50 countrie srae involved in germplasm exchange and participate in IWWIP global wheat improvement network.
2. Since 1986 more than 10,000 wheat varieties or advanced breeding lines have been distributed by IWWIP to its global cooperators.
3. Winter wheat breeding and reseatch porograms in Europe, North and South Americas on average selected 10-15 percent of the germplasm they recieved and utilized it for crossing programs and development of new varieties.
4. More than 60% of the cooperators find the germplasm they receive from IWWIP as useful or very usefull.
5. More than 200 young researchs have been trained by IWWIP or by CIMMYT and ICARDA in wheat improvement and related subjects. These researchers now play key role in national programs.
6. 60 winter wheat varieties originating from IWWIP have been officially released in Central and West Asia region and occupy more than 2 mln ha.

There are several layers of beneficiaries and their needs addressed by IWWIP:
1. Global wheat breeding and research community needs for exchange of new varieties and breeding lines through the exchange mechanism as IWWIP which is technically sound, non-profit, neutral and well trusted.
2. Wheat breeder and researchers in the target region of Central and West Asia: their needs for training, access to new improved germplasm, methods and tools have been addressed through cooperation with IWWIP.
3. The farming communities in the target regions: their specific needs to obtain superior wheat varieties to produce higher and stable yield with good grain quality were addressed through provision of IWWIP breeding lines and identification and promotion of the best suitable for their conditions.
4. Extension workers and local administration working with the farmers are also beneficiaries since new varieties and technologies provide a basis for transfer of technologies and productions gains. 

Some breeders and other beneficiaries IWWIP supports global breeeders, researchers, extension services, local authorities and producers for CWANA (Central-West Asia, North Africa).

The main individuals involved in IWWIP activities are the research and administrative staff of the following institutes from the General Directorate of Policy and Agricultural Research of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock:
• Coordinator Institute is Bahri Dağdaş Int. Agr. Res.Inst. Konya; Field Crops Central Res. Inst. Ankara; Trans. Zone Agr. Res. Inst. Eskişehir; Trakya Agr. Res. Inst. Edirne; Blacksea Agr. Res. Inst. Samsun; Maize Res. Inst. Sakarya; Ege Agr. Res. Inst. İzmir; East Med. Agr. Res. Inst. Adana; East Med. TZAR Inst. K.Maraş; GAP Int. Agr. Inst. Diyarbakır, GAP and Erzurum Institutes.

• CIMMYT-Turkey staff: total 3 researchers

• ICARDA-Turkey staff: total 1 researcher
• Numerous cooperators from the region and outside who contribute the germplasm, evaluate the nurseries and provide the data
IWWIP is managed by three coordinators representing three main partners. There is a Steering Committee meeting once a year and providing strategic directions to IWWIP.

The main obstacle was and still remains for IWWIP is intellectual property rights since there is always exchange of germplasm and there is always a possibility of its misuse. Many breeders have been cooperating with us for 10-20 years and over time the professional interests grew closer as well as the trust in each other. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources was adopted by the international community and it regulates the germplasm exchange in a relatively simple and uniform manner. Though not all countries are signatories to the Treaty – it was still very helpful in establishing the germplasm exchange rules. The second major obstacle was and remains the capacity of the national programs in less developed countries to identify, multiply and promote new varieties. This capacity is very limited in countries like Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. IWWIP undertook efforts to train people to establish the core of wheat breeding programs in these countries.

International Cooperation and Collaboration International Cooperation and collaboration is very important to solve problems and overcome difficulties.

There is substantial positive environmental impact of this initiative in two main areas:
• The modern wheat varieties developed by IWWIP are resistant to dominating diseases (leaf and yellow rust; common bunt, etc.) and do not require chemical protection during their cultivation. Considering that some countries apply fungicides on more than 50% of wheat area with annual cost exceeding several millions US dollars, this is hugely important environmental benefit.
• In the last 5-7 years IWWIP initiated and conducted highly successful wheat landraces inventory in Turkey, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. This activity resulted in identification of more than 300 diverse landraces still grown in the region, especially in Turkey. The national efforts are underway to preserve these landrace on-farms and utilize them in breeding. Maintenance of on-farm wheat genetic diversity is an important IWWIP contribution to environment. 

IWWIP supports the region and world IWWIP contribute to food security using new approaches and using the landraces.

Wheat breeding is by nature a long-lasting process and it is always needed as long as wheat is cultivated. The breeding crosses made in 2014 may produce new varieties in 15-20 years. So in this respect IWWIP impact will continue for relatively long time. On the other hand, all the three partners of IWWIP are tremendously committed to its mission and continuation. The key for IWWIP to maintain its success to evolve and to respond to new technical challenges like climate change, resistance to new pathogens, grain quality improvement, etc. so that IWWIP products remain demanded and competitive. There are several global initiatives in which IWWIP participate like CGIAR Research Program WHEAT; Wheat Yield Consortium, Borlaug Global Rust Initiative which contribute to IWWIP high technical level and play important role in global integration of research for development.

An International Sustainable Program-IWWIP since 1986 IWWIP has been caring out activities since 1986 under the International Collaboration.

IWWIP is traditional breeding and research program with global cooperation network which involved physical exchange of seeds and information. To large extend the dissemination methodology was based on traditional approaches of bilateral and network communications and regular partners meetings. There is IWWIP web site which serves as a tool for data dissemination and seed request and it serves the purpose very well. For the identification and promotion of new wheat varieties by the partners also primarily traditional extension methodologies were used like participatory variety testing and evaluation, field days, seeds distribution, publications of leaflets and use of Internet. However, these traditional dissemination methodology turned out to be robust and far reaching providing great results in application of new improved wheat varieties. 

IWWIP organizations and activities IWWIP organizes partner meetings, trainings, participatory variety testings and evaluations, field days and serves results using the website.