Drought stress can be extremely damaging to crop production systems, and with global climate patterns changing, it is becoming an increasingly important food security issue. The horn of Africa is highly vulnerable to drought stress. Somalia, which only produces around half of the cereal needed to feed its population in an average year (FAO, 2012), has already suffered many major drought events in the last quarter century.
These droughts majorly contributed to precipitating famines which, combined, have claimed more than half a million lives (Ó Gráda, 2009; Checchi& Robinson, 2013). In order to combat the negative effects of drought stress, new production techniques and agricultural technologies are necessary. BioEnsureTM, a seed treatment which contains fungal endophytes that are thought to impart drought, temperature and salt stress tolerance to crop plants, is one potential new technology being examined by SATG for reducing environment-related crop losses in Somalia. .
Though BioEnsureTM, has shown promising results in other areas of the world, it has not yet been investigated in Somalia. In order to address these knowledge gaps, SATG/Filsan, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Minnesota, has initiated the first phase of BioEnsureTM research trials at the Agribusiness Incubation Center (ABIC) in Afgoi. These trials will investigate the effects of BioEnsureTM seed treatment on four different crops (maize, sorghum, cowpea and mungbean) under different levels of soil fertility and water stress.
bY AMINA OSMAN
SOIL ANALYSIS SPECIALIST