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A vast, rural and very poor country despite plenty of natural resources, Chad has real potential to improve its food security and agriculture. Millions of farming families who practice subsistence farming in harsh environments would benefit from better seeds, conservation practices and strategies for greater resilience to climate shocks. Improving quality standards of the growing agribusiness sector is also among the research and development priorities. 

39 million hectares- Agricultural land in Chad that can be cultivated 

>60% - Share of Chad's population living on less than $1.25 a day

50% - Yield increase of sorghum variety S35 in Chad compared to the best local varieties


General context

Vast and sparsely populated, Chad is among the poorest countries despite its significant natural resources. It has 39 million hectares of arable land, over 5 million of which can be irrigated. Over 60% of the population lives below the poverty line, and the majority of the poor are subsistence farmers or pastoralists.

Agriculture represents about 40% of the GDP. The main agricultural exports are cotton and sugar, controlled by state companies. About 75% of the Chad population lives in rural areas, defined in three agroecological zones: the dry Sahara zone in the North, land of the pastoralists; the Sahel zone in the Centre with rainfall between 300-600 mm including the capital Ndjamena on the banks of the Chad lake; and the Sudanian zone in southern Chad, the most densely populated region with rainfall of over 950 mm and a 6-month rainy season.

A large share of the population is food insecure as farming is not mechanized and productive and highly vulnerable to climate shocks. About 44% of the population  chronically food insecure in 2009 (Enquête sur la sécurité alimentaire et la vulnérabilité

Structurelle (WFP). Malnutrition rates are higher in the Sahel region. The drought in 2009-2010 in the Sahel affected 2 million people, reducing cereal production by over 50% compared to average years. Chad is also destabilized by the conflicts in neighboring Sudan, Niger and Central Africa with the settlement of thousands of refugees.

ICRISAT research in Chad

To tackle recurrent rural poverty, a priority is to improve the climate resilience of farming. Dryland cereals are essential for the food security of many households. Postrainy season sorghum, called berbéré in Chad, is the major staple crop in many isolated and difficult environments in the Sahel zone and can be the only source of food for rural families at harvest time. Its production has increased in the last decade. Due to a drier climate, some Sahelien farmers have replaced cotton production with climate-adapted berbéré. Yields have also significantly improved as more farmers adopt improved cultivars.

For instance, sorghum variety S35 has had great impact since its release in 1989 in Chad. This improved variety is now grown on over a quarter of sorghum fields, with 50% higher yields and a third less of production costs compared to local varieties.

Groundnut is also an important legume crop for family nutrition, cultivated on about 500,000 hectares. Researchers are assessing the performance of groundnut varieties based on drought and high temperatures, which can severely impact pod yield.

Together with ensuring food security for all, Chad in recent years has been  investing in developing the agribusiness sector and improving agricultural value chains. ICRISAT is supporting this agricultural transformation, building Chad's capacity in food testing, as well as rural business incubation, connecting science, farmers and entrepreneurs.  

Groundnut is an important food crop in Chad. Farmers look for varieties that perform under drought and high temperatures. 
S35, a successful example of introducing high-yielding improved varieties in Chad.