Approaches and Strategies for sustainable wheat production
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This handbook provides practical information on wheat production. It aims to inform the work of policy makers, agriculture agencies, extension agents, non-governmental organizations, universities and research organizations, both in developing countries and worldwide, who are responsible for delivering national and global food security. It summarizes the key aspects of wheat production that planners and producers need to consider for the effective management and expansion of wheat growing areas or improvement of wheat crop productivity, including: • Common challenges and constraints to optimal wheat production • Overview of common wheat farming systems • Current wheat technologies and practices, such as improved varieties, seed systems, best rotation systems, conservation agriculture, nutrient management methods, integrated pest management and irrigation methods • Future directions and recommendations to increase wheat productivity per unit area while conserving the natural resource base Wheat is the most widely grown and consumed food crop accounting for 20% of humanity’s food. In the past decade, some 620 million tons of wheat was produced on 220 million hectares, with productivity levels of 3 tons/hectare. After the quantum leap of the Green Revolution, wheat yields have been rising by only 1.1% per year, a level that falls far short of the demand of a global population growing by 1.5% or more annually. Some estimates reveal that global wheat production must increase at least by 1.6% annually to meet a projected yearly wheat demand of 760 million tons by 2020. By 2050, with the world population estimated to be 9 billion, the global demand for wheat is estimated to exceed 900 million tons. Meeting this demand is very challenging and is complicated by factors including: climate change; increasing drought/water shortages; soil degradation; reduced fertilizer supply and increasing costs; increasing demand for bio-fuels; and the emergence of new virulent diseases and pests that attack wheat crops. To address these challenges the global development, agricultural research and extension community needs to better understand the drivers of past wheat production trends and future challenges. They need to build on this perspective to design effective strategies that harness the latest technologies, farming practices, enabling policies, and continually engage in global knowledge sharing in new networks and research for development partnerships. In preparing this handbook, the authors hope that the expertise and learning shared here inform national and international strategies that stimulate the continuous improvement of wheat production – to boost food and nutrition security.