Establishing Breeding Priorities for Developing Biofortified High-Yielding Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) Varieties and Hybrids in Dosso Region of Niger

Gaoh, B S B and Gangashetty, P I and Mohammed, R and Govindaraj, M and Dzidzienyo, D K and Tongoona, P (2023) Establishing Breeding Priorities for Developing Biofortified High-Yielding Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) Varieties and Hybrids in Dosso Region of Niger. Agronomy (TSI), 13 (1). pp. 1-13. ISSN 2073-4395

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West Africa is the origin and epicenter of pearl millet genetic diversity. Niger is a standalone country that produces 3.5 million tons of pearl millet from an area of 6.7 million hectares, with productivity varying from 0.5 to 0.7 t/ha. Low grain yield is a result of low soil fertility, drought, downy mildew, head miner, and the non-utilization of improved and quality seeds. Around 30 pearl millet varieties were released in Niger, but the adoption rate of improved varieties is still lagging. There has been no systematic mapping implemented for new varieties’ adoption preferences and the availability of quality seeds. Considering this and assessing the need for biofortified cultivars, the present participatory study was conducted in the Dosso region of Niger, wherein high rates of malnutrition persist. This study aimed (i) to identify breeding priorities for key traits of pearl millet preferred by farmers, with gender-based segregation, for varieties and hybrids, and (ii) to survey the preference for biofortified varieties with added nutritional value. Structured questionnaires and focus groups were used to collect data from 150 randomly selected respondents in 12 villages from three representative departments of Dogondoutchi, Dosso, and Gaya. The results reveal that pearl millet is a primary staple crop grown (98% of respondents) and consumed on a daily basis as food and also used as feed for their animals. The majority of farmers preferred a long panicle (50.7%) and a good seed set (45.3%). For grain traits, a white color (50%) and larger size (100%) were predominantly preferred, which fetches them higher prices in the market, where they compete with sorghum grains. All respondents unanimously rated growing biofortified pearl millet varieties as high (100%), owing to higher Fe and Zn, in addition to yield. Furthermore, 99.3% of farmers perform grain decortication before consumption, thus potentially depleting staple grain nutrition, which is expedient for pearl millet biofortification in the region. This study has the potential for establishing pearl millet breeding priorities that are likely to be employed for other West African pearl millet breeding programs.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Asia
Research Program : West & Central Africa
Uncontrolled Keywords: biofortification, iron, zinc, pearl millet, West Africa
Subjects: Mandate crops > Millets > Pearl Millet
Others > Biofortification
Others > West Africa
Depositing User: Mr Nagaraju T
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2023 06:00
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 06:00
Official URL:
Funders: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), ECONET (Strive Masiyiwa)
Acknowledgement: The authors thank colleagues from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Sahelian Center, Sadoré-Niger. Thanks to Esther Njuguna-Mungai (ICRISAT-Nairobi) and Jummai Yila (ICRISAT-Mali). Thanks to the regional directors and extension agents of agriculture in the Dosso, Gaya, and Dogondoutchi departments. Additionally, thanks to the village chiefs for allowing us to conduct the study in their villages and the farmers who participated in the study. PGS and MG have been supported by HarvestPlus projects.
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