THE International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in partnership with the Seed Co Group, has developed a new variety of white sorghum (great millet) that is set to increase yield by 25%.
The hybrid seed is a result of the recent agricultural innovation breakthrough conducted through the Sorghum and Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium.
Millet is rich in protein, potassium, and vitamin B and is used to make bread, cereal and couscous to pudding and in the production of alcoholic beverages.
ICRISAT director-general Jacqueline Hughes said the white sorghum variety, which promises greater resilience to erratic rainfall had a good yield and would increase farmers’ income.
“This breakthrough is a prime example of how ICRISAT’s research efforts are contributing to the wellbeing of farmers and their families across the continent, to global food and nutritional security, and ultimately, to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“I thank the Seed Co Group and our other partners for this innovation which marks another significant step towards a more resilient and food-secure future for Africa” she said in a statement.
Seed Co global research and development head Gorden Mabuyaye said their partnership with ICRISAT strove to bring innovative and high-performing seeds to the market.
“Our partnership is making a positive impact on farmers and their incomes and this new hybrid will go a long way in mitigating the effects of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa” Mabuyaye said.
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The millet variety matures within 85 to 118 days, has a potential yield of up to eight tonnes per hectare and has good resistance to common leaf diseases and its strong straw structure helps maintain plant stability, which is essential for efficientand profitable crop production.
“I am pleased that this new hybrid is well-adapted to the agro-climatic conditions of Zimbabwe and offers a promising solution to sorghum farmers, particularly in those regions with moderate to erratic rainfall patterns,” ICRISAT’s principal scientist for eastern and southern Africa, Hapson Mushoriwa said.
Millets are more tolerant to poor soils, droughts and harsh weather conditions, and can easily adapt to different environments without high levels of fertiliser and pesticide applications.