Project Details

Bringing the benefits of heterosis to smallholder sorghum and pearl millet farmers in West Africa

Duration: 01/Apr/2014 - 31/Mar/2017

Locations: West and Central Africa / Mali / Niger / Nigeria / Senegal

Project contact: Dr Eva W Rattunde (

Donor: Government department -national- state or local,Bundesministerium for Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)-Germany

CGIAR Research Program: Dryland Cereals

The project aims to enhance sorghum and pearl millet productivity in West and Central Africa through the cultivation of nutritious hybrids, contributing to food security, income generation, and improved nutrition. To achieve this goal, key NARS, university and ICRISAT researchers will collaborate to define functional heterotic parental-pools required for sustainable hybrid development, establish efficient hybrid breeding strategies based on quantitative-genetic parameters and molecular-breeding tools, and create new and diverse hybrid parents. The sorghum research will target the main sorghum production systems (700-1100 mm rainfall) with work on Guinea grain types in Mali and on Kaura-Fara Fara grain types in Nigeria. The majority of sorghum is produced on poor soils (low plant-available phosphorus), and thus we will optimize hybrid selection strategies targeting these conditions. Pearl millet research will focus on the 400-700 mm rainfall zone with sandy soils and variable rainfall, targeting long-panicled hybrids for both Niger and Senegal. In both crops, bio-available grain mineral content (iron, zinc) of the parents and hybrids will be assessed and related to phytate content, to permit selection of nutrient-dense hybrids that should contribute to improved human nutrition.

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