A non-GMO durum wheat variety that grows in 40°C heat and matures in record time could give African food security a vital boost and forge new global south-to-south trade dynamics, ending North Africa’s dependence on western wheat.

Using non-GM molecular breeding techniques, a team of researchers led by dr Filippo Bassi of the International Centre for Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) selected and crossed thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands​ of durum wheat varieties before finding those that can withstand the soaring 35-40°C temperatures along the savannah of the Senegal River basin.

Apart from continually re-selecting seeds to develop even better performing varieties, the next step for Bassi and his team is to roll out the crop on a large scale.

The varieties have already passed the trial period and he is in close contact with the governments of Mauritania and Senegal, as part of their national wheat programmes, to ensure that the varieties will be in farmers’ fields for commercialisation within two years. So far the plant scientists are targeting larger farmers that have greater influence at a local level. – Foodnavigator.com

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