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Maximizing Wheat Productivity With Supplemental Irrigation

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region predominantly relies upon rainfall to service its agricultural . Still, in today's  environment, such reliance is increasingly risky for farmers in the region.

In Morocco, where about 85% of the wheat area is rainfed, a recent ICARDA analysis of four diverse rainfall growing seasons reveals that total rainfall is the key determinant of successful rainfed wheat yields. However, as climate change accelerates, increasing rainfall variability and weather shocks result in poor crop yields, unstable yield performance, and even complete crop failures, threatening  across the country.

The rising frequency of droughts poses significant challenges to the economy, agriculture, and food security while also accelerating soil degradation and reducing soil fertility for future crops.

However, key ICARDA innovations such as resilient wheat varieties, supplemental irrigation, and adjusting sowing time have the potential to combat today's climate and man-made impacts.

The annual productivity for wheat averaged 1.85+0.63 t ha-1 from 2012 to 2022. Our recent findings indicate that, in farmer-managed fields, the average productivity of wheat can increase by at least 1.5t ha-1 in severe drought conditions with the adoption of appropriate variety coupled with the provision of life-saving supplementary irrigation, assuming at least a 50% yield improvement in farmer-managed fields based on the results achieved at experimental stations. This represents a significant potential improvement from the current national average, demonstrating the impact of targeted irrigation practices.

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