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OCTOBER  12,1999

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Research on Cool-Season Legumes, Cereal said Vital: Minister

Addis Ababa (ENA) The Nile Valley and Red Sea Regional Programme (NVRSRP) research activities on cool-season food legumes and cereals had contributed to the promotion of food security in the region, a senior government official said.

In his speech made at the ninth regional co-ordination meeting of the NVRSRP which opened here yesterday, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Doctor Mengistu Huluka, said the variety of food legumes had boosted agricultural production and provided raw materials for agro-industries.

He said Ethiopia had benefited much from the different breeding programmes carried out to develop varieties of faba beans, field peas, lentil, kabula chickpeas and barley.

According to a recent statistical data, he said, the area of land under pulses had increased from one million hectares in 1994/95 to 1.5 million hectares in 1996/97.

"The major change was due to an increase in the areas of chickpea, field pea, and haricot beans production," the minister said.

According to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) director general statement, the collaboration among the countries in the region is needed for enhancing complementarity leading to food security.

The concerted efforts being deployed by NVRSRP, ICARDA and partner countries have helped improve the productivity of the major food crops in a sustainable production system and conserve the natural resource-base, the statement said.

Research papers on viruses and rootrot of food legumes, drought and water use efficiency, rusts of wheat and barley, among others, would be presented in the course of the four-day meeting.

Based in Cairo, Egypt, NVRSRP is ICARDAS' first out-reach programme established with the main goal of increasing the incomes of small holder farmers and improve food security in the member states.

Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen and Egypt are the regional member states of NVRSRP.