24) Sorghum Yield Nearly Doubled in India Thanks to ICRISAT-ICAR Partnership (10 May 2001)


"In India, sorghum yield increased from about 0.46 to 0.8 tons per hectare during the last 28 years, helping to release over 4 million hectares, which were previously under sorghum, for growing other crops" said ICRISAT Director General
Dr William D Dar in his address as Guest of Honor at the 31st Annual Group Meeting of the All India Coordinated Sorghum Improvement Project on 5 May 2001 in Hyderabad.

Dr. Dar cited this as the result of "a successful partnership built on mutual trust" between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Agricultural Universities, and ICRISAT. "Although the area under sorghum decreased from about 15 to 11 million hectares during the same period, the total sorghum grain production in the country has remained constant," he added.

Sorghum is the world's fifth most important cereal, grown mostly in the dry tropics - which is the focus of ICRISAT's research. One of the main staples of the poor, sorghum is genetically suited to hot and dry agroecologies where it is difficult to grow other food grains.

The participants of the meeting - which was organized by ICAR and Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University - included top Indian scientists and research administrators. The ICAR-ICRISAT collaborative program on sorghum, research on sorghum hybrids, and seed production were some of the issues discussed during the meeting.

Thanking the private sector seed companies who are collaborating with ICRISAT, funding research on specific topics, Dr. Dar said that ICRISAT is also working with sorghum scientists in India in new areas, such as molecular markers. In his conclusion, Dr Dar posed four major challenges before the participants:

  •  how to get additional resources for research to meet the increasing demand for sorghum as fodder and feed
  •  the need to increase productivity in post-rainy season sorghum
  •  integration of new and traditional methods - biotechnology and conventional breeding
  •  the need to address the problems of "hidden hunger" caused by imbalanced nutrition

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