Conserve and improve the performance and Productivity of landraces of durum wheat in Palestine

Place: palestine, Asia
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 180.000,00 | Period: From October 2010 To December 2012


Landraces of durum wheat in Palestine is threaten to be lose because farmers have replaced it with introduced improved cultivars of wheat. Although the productivity of landrace of wheat is low but it still more tolerant to harsh conditions. Loses of theses genetic material aw well means loses of an important gene pool. The best keepers for such genetic materials are farmers and best place to safe is the fields.. therefore ,the productivity of landraces should be enhanced. During 3years of working,  several accessions of wheat were collected, evaluated and characterized. Moreover  a simple breeding participatory approach have been followed to increase the productivity of wheat landraces. Recently several farmers grow the either new improved landraces or the even the old landraces of wheat. 


Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development - Kuwait

Initiative partner

The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (the Arab Fund), based in the State of Kuwait, is an Arab regional financial institution focused on funding economic and social development by financing public and private investment projects and providing grants and expertise. The Arab Fund's activities are characterized by a number of important aspects that make it a model of cooperation and Arab economic integration, and a reflection of outstanding joint Arab action. With all the Arab countries as its members and concentrating on economic and social development affecting the same countries the Arab Fund carefully follows guidelines on neutrality in pursuing its activities and organizes itself under substantive rules to ensure independence from any political considerations when conducting in its operations. Achieving Arab integration and consolidating cooperation among the Member countries is the main objective of the Arab Fund. Priority is therefore given to financing joint Arab projects of particular importance and specifically to those projects that increase the interdependence of Arab countries. Hence the emphasis on contributing to projects involving the interconnection of electrical power, transportation and communications. The Arab Fund also pays close attention to social development and reducing poverty by financing projects covering health care, education, drinking water, rural development, and social welfare. The Arab Fund, being an Arab institution, is focused on Arab issues and concerns. In this regard it pays special attention to the least developed Arab countries such as providing support to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories through financing a program of projects in different sectors. It provides grants to support educational institutions, universities and professional and social associations. The Arab Fund has also supported a number of Arab countries in countering the effects of natural disasters and wars.

International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry areas - Syria

Initiative partner

ICARDA is the global agricultural research center working with countries in the world’s dry areas. We support them to improve: • The sustainable productivity of their agricultural production systems • The incomes of smallholder farmers living on dry lands and in fragile ecosystems • Nutrition and national food security strategies With our partners in many countries, ICARDA produces science based-solutions. These include new crop varieties (barley, wheat, durum wheats, lentil, faba bean, kabuli chickpea, pasture and forage legumes); improved practices for farming and natural resources management; and socio-economic and policy options to support countries to improve their food security. All these products and technologies are international public goods science, freely available to all partners in developing countries and to development partners and international organizations. Drylands agriculture in the world’s low-income countries is situated primarily in Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in Latin America. ICARDA works closely with national agricultural research programs and other partners worldwide – Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. The goal of these partnerships is to develop new solutions to improve dryland agriculture and create international public goods that are freely available to other countries and regions with dry areas. ICARDA’s research with partners improves productivity of their agriculture on marginal lands and fragile ecosystems. It helps increase food security and nutrition levels for these populations, and brings increased income to smallholder farmers. The work of ICARDA’s researchers aims to impact partner countries in two main areas: Building the capacity of researchers in partner countries and national agricultural research systems. Introducing policy options and technologies.

National Agricultural Research Center - Palestine

Initiative partner

NARC was established in 1995 to conduct and coordinate agricultural research activities in Palestine. -Coordination of National Agricultural research activities in Palestine. -Planning, managing and implementing research programs that respond to the rising technical problems -Improving livestock and plant production . -Conservation, preservation and sustainable use of natural resources in order to maintain ecological balance -Technology Transfer Adopt new technology from local and/or other sources for improving agricultural production. -Establishing the facilities to store germplasm for crops and livestock -Serving as a scientific and technical resource for applied research and extension in Palestine -Providing Lab. Technical services. The mission of NARC is to improve and Increase plant, livestock production and enhance sustainable use and efficiency of natural resources for the benefit of farmers and other producers.

Wheat is the most important crop in Palestine. Unfortunately, farmers grow new introduced wheat cultivars because of its high productivity. Therefore, old varieties of wheat (landraces) are threaten by disappear not from the fields but as well from biodiversity system. Our initiative was to collect, document, conserve, multiplication the landraces of wheat with real keepers (farmers). As well encourage farmers to grow landraces through improving its productivity in participation selection approach with farmers. Four improved old cultivars (landraces) of wheat were developed for high production. Recently they are re-introduced to agro-system in Palestine and grown in farmers fields with enhancement in the production and income. These improved landraces are grown in harsh environments (drought and heat) where the new cultivars of wheat could not grow. Also nine landraces of wheat were re-cognized, characterized, and conserved in-situ or ex-situ.

Contributions of our initiative were first economically by increasing the productivity of wheat landraces and consequently the income enhanced. The productivity of grain and straw of durum wheat increased in average 7% and 22%, respectively for different four landraces.
Second environmentally, different eight landraces were conserved and the diversity for gemplasm of durum wheat in Palestine was maintained. An important gene pool was conserved and protected from losses forever. This gene pool is now available nationally or internationally to produce new cultivars of wheat.
Moreover, farmers the main keeper for genetic diversity of wheat in Palestine by growing the landraces of wheat, started to grow the improved landraces in areas where it was difficult to plant it with other cultivars of wheat. The reasonable income return justifies growing it in harsh conditions area. The most important issue is the chance to lose our genetic germplasm of wheat is minimized dramatically.

Durum wheat fields cover slopes were precipitations is of 350mm.Farmers adopted new technology in agriculture and many wheat farmers replaced their landraces of wheat with new improved cultivars.After some decades of replacement and because of limitation of access to some agricultural inputs(nitrogen fertilizers,climate change),productivity of wheat still very low.Less than 20% of planted area is growing with old local cultivars.Many cultivars become either rare or not common.Farmers still prefer landraces of wheat because the quality and golden color of flour, as well the straw is suitable for animal feeding.Landraces of wheat are commonly used in local dishes and are more tolerant for abiotic stress than new cultivars, grow in areas where other new cultivars could not grow and response well to the low agricultural inputs (fertilizers,herbicides).The productivity of wheat is low and genetic germplasm of durum wheat is threaten to disappear.

- The income for farmers increased in average 25-30%.
- Maintain the excited the germplasm of durum wheat in Palestine.
- Several  scientific researches have been launched concerning durum wheat in Palestine
- Farmers associations have been encouraged to produce landraces of wheat commercially

1. Wheat farmers particularly who is living in the harsh condition areas and still prefer growing the wheat. Improved  landraces of wheat produce higher income and tolerant to drought conditions
2. Farmers associations who are growing them landraces of wheat (received more request from NGOs) to sell landraces of wheat.
3. Interested persons with biodiversity issues.
4. Indirect, the environment. Germplasm of wheat is maintained because more farmers still grow landraces of wheat
5. Climate change mitigation: landraces more tolerant to drought condition than new cultivars

Wheat Breeder (2) :have engaged in the selection of durum wheat for higher productivity and made the statistic analysis.
Agronomist (2): characterized the selected new landraces of wheat in the field and  evaluated its production comparing with other genotypes of wheat. Collected the landraces of wheat from different areas, classified, and characterized morphologically.
Extension agent (1): supported and facilitated the cooperation with farmers. As well disseminated the outputs of the initiatives through field days and workshops
Farmers (4): selected the spikes of wheat in the beginning  from the fields and evaluated and multiplication the new landraces.

Wheat Breeder selecting durum wheat Wheat Breeder selecting durum wheat
../file-system/small/pptx ../file-system/small/pptx Improvement of wheat landraces Improvement of wheat landraces. 5 populations of wheat landrace were collected and improved with the participation of the farmers The grain yield of the improved population exceeded the original population between 6% to 35 %.

- It was difficult some times to distinguish between landraces and new cultivars of wheat. DNA markers application requested to  get clear-cut decision.
- Change the believes for farmers about low production of landraces of wheat. Demonstration fields were done in farmers fields to evaluate the production of improved landraces of wheat.

Palestine is part of the fertile crescent which is the origin of durum wheat. Wheat landraces (genepool) is threaten to be lose because new introduced cultivars became dominants in the fields. Within this work the local germplasm of durum wheat is conserved and documented.So the chance for loses is very low.Since farmers get benefits from wheat landrace,they will continue in growing it,the best place to save these germplasm is farmers themselves.To achieve this goal, profitability of wheat landraces should be reasonable at least.And this is what have been done by improving the performance of durum wheat through selection with farmers support because landraces of wheat is more tolerant to harsh conditions such as drought than improved and introduced cultivars, so more areas are expected to planted with improved landraces of durum particularly in the south where precipitation range is 250-300mm.Growing drought tolerant landraces of wheat could a good mitigation for climate change effect

The collected and improved landraces of durum wheat now is available for farmers particularly who is living in arid areas were the other improved wheat cultivars could not grow economically. Therefore, the economic return from growing wheat in these harsh areas will guarantee the continuous of planting these landraces.
On other side, the price of  local dishes such as FLAT BREAD, MAFTOOL, BOURGHEl and  SAMEED usually is high in the markets so other farmers will adopt these landraces.
farmer associations are multiplication these landraces and distributing to neighboring farmers, so transferability and duplicability are achieved. 

Farmers and collected and improved landraces of durum wheat Farmers and collected and improved landraces of durum wheat

All data about  the collected and documented landraces of wheat will be available for farmers by the end of September,2014. Several field days and workshops were held with farmers in order to introduce new improved landraces of wheat, as well to clarify the important of them in the local eco-system. Demonstration fields were achieved to show farmers the improvement of landraces under farmers fields conditions.

Working table for drafting of common and improved wheat in Palestine Working table for drafting of common and improved wheat in Palestine
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Draft for common and improved wheat in Palestine Draft for common and improved wheat in Palestine