Breeding Biofortified Pearl Millet Varieties and Hybrids to Enhance Millet Markets for Human Nutrition

Govindaraj, M and Rai, K N and Cherian, B and Pfeiffer, W H and Kanatti, A and Shivade, H (2019) Breeding Biofortified Pearl Millet Varieties and Hybrids to Enhance Millet Markets for Human Nutrition. Agriculture, 9(5) (106). pp. 1-11. ISSN 2077-0472

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Pearl millet is an important food crop in the arid and semi-arid tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Iron and zinc deficiencies are widespread and serious public health problems worldwide, including in India and Africa. Biofortification is a cost-effective and sustainable agricultural strategy to address this problem. The aim of this review is to provide the current biofortification breeding status and future directions of the pearl millet for growing nutrition markets. Research on the pearl millet has shown that a large genetic variability (30–140 mg kg−1 Fe and 20–90 mg kg−1 Zn) available in this crop can be effectively utilized to develop high-yielding cultivars with high iron and zinc densities. Open-pollinated varieties (Dhanashakti) and hybrids (ICMH 1202, ICMH 1203 and ICMH 1301) of pearl millet with a high grain yield and high levels of iron (70–75 mg kg−1) and zinc (35–40 mg kg−1) densities have been developed and released first in India. Currently, India is growing > 70,000 ha of biofortified pearl millet, and furthermore more pipeline cultivars are under various stages of testing at the national (India) and international (west Africa) trials for a possible release. Until today, no special markets existed to promote biofortified varieties and hybrids as no incentive price to products existed to address food and nutritional insecurity simultaneously. The market demand is likely to increase only after an investment in crop breeding and the integration into the public distribution system, nutritional intervention schemes, private seed and food companies with strong mainstreaming nutritional policies. The following sections describe various aspects of breeding and market opportunity for addressing micronutrient malnutrition.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Asia
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)
CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC)
Uncontrolled Keywords: biofortification; pearl millet; malnutrition; iron; zinc; market; pearl millet varieties; human nutrition; biofortified high-yielding hybrids; nutritional security; food security; drylands; biofortified cultivars
Subjects: Others > Crop Improvement
Others > Plant Breeding
Mandate crops > Millets
Mandate crops > Millets > Pearl Millet
Others > Biofortification
Others > Food and Nutrition
Others > Food Security
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2019 04:15
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2019 04:15
Official URL:
Funders: HarvestPlus Challenge Program of the CGIAR
Acknowledgement: This work was financially supported by HarvestPlus Challenge Program of the CGIAR.
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