The SARD-SC noted the National Research Institute of Eritrea has developed new wheat varieties with yields of nearly 3.3-5.5 tons/hectare (t/ha).
Presently the average wheat yield in Eritrea stands at about 1.1t/ha. The new wheat varieties represent an increase in yields between 200 to over 400 per cent compared to the prevailing national average.
In the United States, the average winter wheat yield (2010-2015) is between 40-45 bushels per acre while average spring wheat yields (2010-2015) are between 37-45 bushels per acre. (USDA) These are equivalent to 2.7-3.0 t/ha and 2.5-3.0 t/ha, respectively for winter and spring wheat yields respectively. The new wheat varieties developed by NARI-Eritrea represent a 22-83% and 32-83% yield increases relative to the US winter and spring wheat respectively.
The wheat yields in the United States are the result of over 100 years of agricultural research and outreach. Most farmers in Eritrea operate without the benefit of irrigation – generally based on rain-fed – similarly, most Midwestern US farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture but more reliable and dependable rainfall quantity distribution in time and space. The US yields offer a reasonable comparison for yield targets by Eritrean farmers.
It should be noted that the substantial yield increases of the new wheat varieties in Eritrea are grown in model fields and regular farm yields may be lower. Nevertheless even if the low end yield (3.3 t/ha) of the new wheat varieties is widely produced in Eritrea the country could achieve food security in no time.
In 2002 projected demand for grains in Eritrea amounted to nearly 600,000 tons, while the amount of cultivated land in the country was about 200,000 hectares. With only 3.3t/ha yield of the new wheat varieties produced as opposed to producing the maximum yield of 5.5 t/ha, Eritrea will be considered as one of the highest producers of wheat when measured on per hectare basis.