Utilizing the recently-generated genome sequence information in pearl millet to address crop productivity challenges; developing hybrids suitable for regions with less than 400 mm of rainfall per annum and for improving the shelf life of flour, were discussed by scientists from Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan Agricultural University (SKRAU), Bikaner and ICRISAT.
In view of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, recently approving a project to upscale hybrid technology in western Rajasthan, Dr Govind Singh, Director Research, RAU, Bikaner, suggested that it is the right time for ICRISAT and partner organizations to come together and utilize the recently-generated genome sequence information in pearl millet to address the unresolved challenges in increasing crop productivity. The group which included Dr SK Gupta, Senior Scientist, Pearl Millet Breeding, ICRISAT, decided to design a joint project to move forward on this.
The previous work undertaken by RAU, Bikaner and ICRISAT comprises early-maturing and drought-tolerant pearl millet hybrids identified in the HOPE project that have made visible impact in farmer’s life in western Rajasthan where rains were very meager this year. Scientists from the two institutes, who recently travelled extensively in the districts of Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer were told by farmers that the newly identified hybrids yielded reasonably well under rainfed environments or with limited irrigation in comparison to old hybrids. The women folk, however, complained of the low shelf life of pearl millet flour. The drudgery of hand-milling small batches of grain periodically has resulted in decreasing consumption of pearl millet in rural areas.
ICRISAT scientists with Dr HP Yadav, Project Coordinator- AICPMIP and his team at Mandore, Jodhpur. photo: ICRISAT
Addressing the visiting team, Dr HP Yadav, Project Coordinator, All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) at Mandore, informed that the efforts of ICRISAT and partner institutions has resulted in seeds of many new hybrids being made available to pearl millet farmers for cultivation in western Rajasthan. While demonstrating the national trial on pearl millet hybrids released for cultivation in India, he emphasized on the need to provide more cultivar options to farmers in the A1 zone of pearl millet cultivation, which receives less than 400 mm of rainfall per annum.
Project title: Pearl millet hybrids for increasing the productivity of western Rajasthan
Project Donor: National Food Security Mission, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India
Project Partners: ICRISAT, AICPMIP, Jodhpur; SKRAU, Bikaner and Shri Karan Narendra College of Agriculture, Jobner
CGIAR Research Program: Dryland Cereals