Ethiopia is considered to be a centre of diversity for many cultivated crop plants including several legume species. The indigenous microbial flora associated with them also shows corresponding diversity. However, despite being blessed with natural resources of great diversity, the country has not yet exploited its resources to overcome recurrent famine.
While grain legumes are essential protein complements to the predominantly carbon rich staples (enset, maize, root and tubers) in southern Ethiopia, their potential to fix atmospheric nitrogen in association with rhizobia has never been studied. The latter has attracted great interest in low input agriculture to improve soil fertility and promote sustainable production.
Recent findings demonstrated that Ethiopian soils harbor several unique strains of rhizobia whose nitrogen fixing efficiency is unknown.
In the project proposed here, we plan to investigate unexplored biodiversity resource and develop an innovative utilization of leguminous plants and their plant growth promoting bacteria in sustainable agriculture where farmers will be introduced (using farmer’s field school approach) with new ways of increasing production. Broad-host-range inoculants will be produced for target legume crops. In the process, the capacity of the institution will be raised in research competence (facilities, MSc and PhD trainings), and ongoing graduate program strengthened.