A recent review and planning meeting showed that partners were on track towards achieving the project goals and delivery of nutritious and high yielding sorghum and pearl millet hybrids to the smallholder farmers in western Africa.

The overall goal of the project is to enhance sorghum and pearl millet productivity in West and Central Africa through cultivation of nutritious hybrids, contributing to food security, income generation, and improved nutrition. To achieve this goal, scientists are collaborating to define functional heterotic parental pools required for sustainable hybrid development, establish efficient hybrid breeding strategies based on quantitative genetic parameters and develop molecular breeding tools, and create new and diverse hybrid parents.

The sorghum team is targeting the main sorghum production systems (700-1100 mm rainfall) with work on Guinea grain types in Mali and on Kaura and Fara Fara grain types in Nigeria. The pearl millet research focus is on the 400-700 rainfall zone with sandy soils and variable rainfall, targeting long-panicle hybrids for both Niger and Senegal.

The review showed that project milestones were all achieved and the close collaboration of the Malian and Nigerian sorghum team was working well and looked promising. For pearl millet there were some major drawbacks, and plans to handle it in the coming season were discussed.

The meeting, hosted by ICRISAT-Niger was held during 23-25 April and attended by all project partners and ICRISAT pearl millet and sorghum breeding team from Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

The project ‘Bringing the benefits of heterosis to smallholder sorghum and pearl millet farmers in West Africa’ funded by BMZ (Bundesministerium Für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit) is implemented under the framework of CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals by ICRISAT in partnership with University of Hohenheim, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN), Niger; Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA), Senegal; Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Nigeria; Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Mali.

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings