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Training to support pearl millet breeding and seed production in eastern and southern Africa

February 20, 2012

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) regional office for eastern and southern Africa, organized a training course on pearl millet improvement and improving seed production at Moshi, Tanzania in November 2011.  Among those invited to speak at the workshop was Dr. RS Mahala, Research coordinator from Pioneer Hi-Bred’s India subsidiary, PHI Seeds Ltd., who formed part of the ICRISAT delegation of speakers from India. 


The first training of its kind held in that geographical region, participants of the workshop were drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe . Participants learned about methodologies and approaches on breeding pearl millet hybrids and open pollinated varieties (OPVs) for yield, disease resistance, quality and maintenance, characterization of parents and genetic stocks.


Dr. Mary A. Mgonja, ICRISAT principal scientist and program leader of Genetic Resources Enhancement and Management based in Nairobi, Kenya said pearl millet has been identified as a climate change ready crop in the southern and eastern African region, “The aim is to have a road map for revitalizing the pearl millet improvement and seed production program in the short, medium and long term.  We appreciate the willingness of the experts from India to share their know-how and experience, giving us great insights to producing the pearl millet crop.”


The takeaway for the participants was that that pearl millet could be a potential crop for providing food and nutritional security in that geographical region.  Discussions at the workshop included testing of small number of pearl millet hybrids that have a maturity range of 80-85 days from India in 2012 to pave the way for growing high yielding pearl millet hybrids in eastern and southern Africa. 


Pioneer continues to work in collaboration with institutes such as ICRISAT on activities that could lead to meet agricultural productivity challenges in India and around the world.