Project Details

Identification of micronutrients-dense sorghums for better health in Western and Central Africa (WCA) and India

Duration: 31/Dec/2014 - 31/Dec/2015

Locations: Asia / India / West and Central Africa / Mali / Nigeria

Project contact: Dr A Ashok Kumar (

Donor: CGIAR,HarvestPlus Challenge Program

CGIAR Research Program: Agriculture for Nutrition and Health

Sorghum plays an important role in the diets and economies of people in India, Mali and Nigeria, the three participating countries in the project. Therefore, any improvement in grain Iron (Fe) and Zinc (Zn) concentrations in sorghum will directly benefit the poor. we assessed the variability for grain Fe and Zn concentrations of a large number of sorghum lines; studied the gene action, trait associations, effect of micro and macronutrient fertilization on grain Fe and Zn; developed a number of new hybrids (with selected parents for Fe and Zn), varieties and hybrid parents with high Fe and Zn content, which are under multilocation evaluation for commercialization. The development of high-yielding and micronutrient-dense cultivars adapted to various agroclimatic conditions is ongoing. One of the varieties (ICSR 14001) developed is currently undergoing multilocation testing under the All India Coordinated Sorghum Improvement Project (AICSIP) and in the state multilocation testing by Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani. A large pipeline of breeding materials, maintainer lines in conversion to male-sterile lines and hybrid parents using elite sorghum lines and high Fe and Zn donors have been developed as part of the crossing program. Identification of QTLs controlling grain Fe and Zn is underway with funding support from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. This will hasten breeding towards developing and commercializing biofortified sorghum cultivars. At ICRISAT-Mali, Backcross nested association mapping (BCNAM) populations developed with 20 diverse parents from WCA region are being genotyped and phenotyped, providing opportunities for line development, and the identification of candidate genes for Fe and Zn concentrations in agronomically elite backgrounds. This work will be carried forward to validate the performance of biofortified cultivars and commercialize them; to develop a strong pipeline of materials for the continuous delivery of improved products and to enable the genetic manipulation of these traits to transfer them to elite sorghum cultivars. It is proposed to initiate biofortification work at ICRISAT-Nigeria considering sorghum's food and nutritional value in SSA in general and Nigeria in particular.

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