Growing interest for sorghum in Mali

Young agricultural technicians of MyAgro visit “Soubatimi”, multipurpose sweet sorghum variety seed production plot in off season. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

Young agricultural technicians of MyAgro visit “Soubatimi”, multipurpose sweet sorghum variety seed production plot in off season. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

A team of 15 newly recruited agricultural technicians were given an overview of sorghum breeding during a tour of ICRISAT-Mali. This included information about activities such as seed production, and development of hybrid parents, commercial hybrids and biotic and abiotic stress-resistant populations. The technicians were part of an NGO, MyAgro, which trains technicians in dissemination of different crop technologies in Mali.

Drought-tolerant sorghum, which is used as food, fodder and a cash crop in West Africa, is faring better in the drought-prone regions of Mali compared to maize, encouraging more farmers to take up cultivation of sorghum in the region. ICRISAT and its partners have registered 13 Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs) and 7 hybrids in the national/regional catalog in Mali in 2016 under the hybrid sorghum program to boost sorghum yield and productivity.

“Our objective is to develop varieties of sorghum adapted to the local conditions with farmers’ preferences,” said Dr Aboubacar Toure, Senior Scientist, Sorghum Breeding, ICRISAT-West and Central Africa. “I am happy to see that more young people will be specialized, starting from this year, in sorghum dissemination. I hope they will keep up this passion that we share.”

The group showed keen interest in the development and distribution of high-yielding sorghum varieties that are adapted to climate change. They had numerous questions related to breeding traits and characteristics for resistance to drought, hybrids parents’ production, etc.

Dr Toure informed the trainees about ICRISAT’s regional research program, while Dr Baloua Nebie, Scientist, Sorghum Breeding, explained the activities of the Sorghum Breeding team, especially those in the off-season. “Some varieties and hybrid sorghum have grain yields of over 2 tons per hectare in farmer’s conditions, which is important,” emphasized Dr Nebie. “A continued training of seed producers in seed production techniques will ensure high quality hybrid seed and strengthen the seed dissemination system.”

Mr Ibrahim Sissoko, Senior Scientific Officer, provided answers to questions related to constraints such as striga, anthracnose, midge and stem borer that commonly affect sorghum production.

To meet the needs of the farmers in its target zones of Mali, MyAgro has tested one sorghum hybrid, ‘Pablo’, and one variety, ‘Tieble’, with 100 producers during the cropping season 2015-2016. MyAgro, in its fifth year of collaboration with farmers’ cooperatives, intends to expand its network of young technicians for dissemination of technologies of different crops in the coming years.

The visit to the ICRISAT-Mali campus took place on 11 April.

For more on ICRISAT’s work in Mali

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal

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