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Modernizing Ethiopian Research on Crop Improvement (MERCI) holds its Mid-Term Progress Review Meeting

Modernizing Ethiopian Research on Crop Improvement (MERCI) is a project funded by BMGF to support the breeding program of targeted commodities, such as wheat, maize, sorghum, common bean and chickpea research programs to improve their optimal performance and effectiveness in breeding and generating improved varieties of the crops having important traits. The project reviewed its progresses in supporting the research activities of these national research commodities from 20-21 April, 2018 at EIAR HQs with the aim to appraise the status of the executed activities and to plan new activities implemented in the next performance period of the project.  

Welcoming the participants, Dr. Alemayehu Assefa, Coordinator of the project at EIAR, said that the project is working to modernize the breeding programs of selected targeted research commodities with the objective to increase the rates of genetic gain and offer the farmers with new crop varieties that respond their felt needs. Opening the review meeting, Dr. Diriba Geleti, the Deputy Director General of EIAR, noticed that the application of advanced breeding techniques in EIAR in general and that of the national research programs in particular is supposed very important to speeding up the knowledge transfer and narrowing the skill gaps seen in most of the breeding activities.

Moreover, He shared the participants of the meeting with key issues that the project should allied with the national development and research agendas, including insuring food and nutrition security, satisfying the input requirements of agro-industries and export market, and cross cutting issues of climate change and gender. The project needs to give a strong attentionto the crop yield gap of the country sothe potential can reach effectively by using full package research outputs. So the amount of yield that we are earning mainly from crops on which this project is focusing will be improved, He emphasized.

On the presentation of the project review and progress summary of the teams, the activities that have been done through the support of project, and various product development concepts in breeding programs were presented. It is also mentioned some challenges that the team faced during implementation and proposed to work on qualified staff, the use of improved equipment, adopting different management systems required to build and maintain multi-disciplinary plant breeding teams and the requirements of establishing strong link with international agricultural research center (CG centres) and donors who are engaged in the research and development of the crops.

Finally, based on the presentation of the status reports of each commodity by respective coordinators thorough discussion was made. EIAR research leaders, program coordinators, researchers, project coordinators attended the meeting.