A wheat-breeding programme to help improve wheat yields in South Africa
A multimillion-rand Wheat Pre-Breeding Platform in Stellenbosch is set to help improve wheat yields in South Africa, as research looks into alternative ways of cultivation.
With the changing environment often affecting crop yields, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has invested over R15 million into a multi-consortium wheat breeding programme to improve resistance to abiotic stresses, such as drought and extreme temperatures.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, and the Western Cape MEC for Agriculture, Mr Alan Winde, will launch the platform at the Welgevallen Experimental Farm on Tuesday, 31 October 2017.
The platform is an initiative by government and the private sector to perform adequate research and development towards developing new cultivars able to adapt to the changing environment.
Partners include Grain SA, the DST, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Agricultural Research Council and Stellenbosch University, among others, and is part of the implementation of the South African Bio-economy Strategy.
The platform received co-funding of approximately R20 million from the Winter Cereal Trust in the last three years.
The platform uses agricultural initiatives as a means to contribute to the alleviation of poverty, unemployment and inequality, while ensuring food security and enhanced nutrition.
Wheat is the second most important grain crop produced in South Africa, and plays an important role in national food security. According to the latest statistics, South Africa imports 46% of its wheat to satisfy domestic demand.
The platform is expected to ultimately move South Africa from being a net importer of wheat to producing adequate volumes to meet the demand and ultimately export surpluses.
Source: Government of South Africa