Sorghum Improvement

Obilana, A B (1998) Sorghum Improvement. International Sorghum and Millets Newsletter, 39. pp. 4-17.

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Sorghum improvement in the SADC/ICRISAT Sorghum and Millet Improvement Program (SMIP) has used a regional, collaborative, multidisciplinary approach since its inception. In the 15-year period from 1983/84 to 1997/98, improved varieties and hybrids were developed, widely tested, and released in eight SADC countries. Breeding, crop protection, and crop management research focused on drought tolerance, early maturity, grain and fodder productivity, and resistance to downy mildew, leaf blight, sooty stripe, and Striga. We also evaluated the grain for food, malting, and feed qualities. The program has made significant achievements in germplasm movement and utilization; cultivar development, testing, and release; assessment of grain qualities for different end uses; strengthening research capacities in the national programs; and strengthening linkages with NGOs, seed companies in Zimbabwe and South Africa, millers in Botswana and Zimbabwe, breweries and feed companies in Zimbabwe, farmers' organizations, and universities. More than 12 000 sorghum germpiasm accessions were assembled from all over the world and made accessible to NARS for sorghum improvement. From these, 10 075 enhanced breeding lines, 4634 populations, 379 hybrid parents, and 3436 experimental hybrids were developed and samples distributed to Angola (100), Botswana (2398), Lesotho (681), Malawi (1449), Mozambique (322), Namibia (139), South Af rica (147), Swaziland (326), Tanzania (3702), Zambia (5330), and Zimbabwe (3930). A total of 27 improved varieties and hybrids were released in eight SADC countries: Botswana (three varieties and one hybrid), Malawi (two varieties), Mozambique (three varieties), Namibia (one variety), Swaziland (three varieties), Tanzania (two varieties), Zambia (three varieties and three hybrids), and Zimbabwe (five varieties and one hybrid). However, of these 27 improved varieties only 9 (33%) are cultivated on about 20-30% of the sorghum areas in six countries. Five sources of resistance to three Striga species were identified. Twenty-three drought-tolerant male parents (R-lines) and 36 female parents (A-lines) with their maintainer (B-lines) parents were developed and are presently being used by South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in their hybrid development programs. As a result of grain quality assessment of more than 2500 improved sorghum genotypes, including the 27 releases and 100 indigenous varieties used by farmers, more cultivars were released that have been adopted by farmers. Consequent to farmer participatory variety selection outcomes, three countries are now retargeting their breeding approaches. Training in seed production and pollination techniques was provided regionally to country representatives, and in-country training was provided in Botswana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Areas where progress has been difficult include increasing productivity of the improved cultivars, and seed production and distribution. SMIP has also helped identify future research needs and options for commercialization of sorghum in each country.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Mandate crops > Sorghum
Depositing User: Library ICRISAT
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2011 04:38
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2011 04:38
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: UNSPECIFIED
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