University of Saskatchewan

September 20, 2014   

U of S-Ethiopian research team fights hunger in the highlands

Soil scientists from the U of S and Hawassa University in Ethiopia are working to improve performance of pulse crops in the Ethiopian highlands. Photo: IDRC
January 13, 2011

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan and Hawassa University in Ethiopia are tackling food insecurity and human nutrition in the highlands of Ethiopia by enhancing production of pulse crops such as chick peas, fava beans, and lentils.

The project is one of three funded through the new Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, a joint initiative of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Pulse crops such as chickpeas, lentils and faba beans provide an important source of protein, income and food security to Ethiopian farmers. These crops also fix nitrogen to increase soil fertility and improve soil health. Unfortunately, varieties grown in Ethiopia are typically low yielding, low in protein, and poor at fixing nitrogen.

Led by Fran Walley and Bunyamin Tar’an at the U of S and Sheleme Beyene at Hawassa Univerity, the researchers will work to find ways to enhance formation of the root nodules that fix nitrogen. The team will use Plant Root Simulator Probes – a simple, easy-to-use technology developed at the U of S – to accurately determine the nitrogen-supplying “power” of the soil. The project will combine researcher-led trials with numerous farmer-led trials in three regions in the highlands of Ethiopia.

For more information, visit the IRDC website at

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