Sorghum and finger millet have been essential staple foods in the semi-arid tropics of Africa for centuries. In eastern Africa, they form an important part of diets of people in Ethiopia, southern Sudan, northern Kenya and Uganda.
Nutritionally, the grains are equal or superior to other staple cereals as they are a good source of quality protein and various minerals. Yet the yields of sorghum and finger millet remain very low – well below their genetic potential – partly due to the low research investment to address present productivity challenges including climate change compared to other mainstream crops. There is a need for more drought tolerant, disease and pest resistant varieties adoptable to low inputs in marginal lands.
This consortium project is working to deliver sorghum and finger millet technologies that minimize the effects of climate change, raise productivity and increase income of sorghum and finger millet for farmers through development-oriented research and innovation activities in eastern Africa. The project proposes an approach that will employ both upstream and downstream technologies to enable development of new tools for improvement of sorghum and finger millet productivity leading to the adoption of improved, disease and drought- tolerant sorghum and finger millet varieties by the smallholder famers. The project will employ diverse research approaches ranging from comparative genomic tools to field experiments and participatory on-farm activities. Specifically the project aims to:
- Identity, develop and deliver sorghum and millet technologies that improve productivity and mitigate the negative effects of climate change;
- Develop, promote and apply molecular tools to compliment conventional breeding activities for sorghum and finger millet in partner countries;
- Develop and commercialize bio-control agents to control sorghum chaffer pest and finger millet blast disease;
- Develop and promote value addition to sorghum and finger millet in partnership with the private sector as market for produce;
Develop early maturing, drought and blast resistant finger millet and drought and disease tolerant sorghum seeds suitable for different agro-ecological zones in eastern Africa by applying biosciences innovations.
- Assessment of regional genetic diversity of existing and new collections and identifying genes with drought tolerance and blast resistance in finger millet.
- Mapping novel stay green quantitative trait locus (QTL) in sorghum
Sorghum and Millet Innovations
- Develop molecular markers to compliment breeding for drought and disease resistance in sorghum and finger millet