Pearl millet improvement for food and nutritional security uri icon


  • Pearl millet (Pennisetum gloucum (L.) R. Br.) is a major warm-season cereal grown on about 30 million ha worldwide, largely in the arid and semi-arid tropical regions of Africa (18 million ha) and Asia (10 million ha) with India accounting for largest area (>9 million ha). Pearl millet in these regions is primarily^grown for grain production to serve as a major source of dietary energy and nutrition, although stover is also being increasingly valued as an important fodder resource. The cross-pollinated breeding system, availability of commercially usable cytoplasmic-nuclear male-sterility (CMS) systems, and heterosis for grain and fodder yield and several other traits of agronomic and economic importance, provide for open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) and hybrids as the two broad cultivar options. Pearl millet hybrids have 25-30% grain yield advantage over OPVs. Therefore, the major emphasis in India has been on hybrid development, initially targeted to relatively better endowed agro-ecoregions, with grain yield as the highest priority trait. The diversification of cultivar base with mostly dual- purpose hybrids has led to 24 kg/ha/year of grain yield increase during the Jast 15 years as compared to only 5.2 kg/ha/year of yield increase during the pre-hybrid phase of 1950-1965. Dissemination of a large number and diverse range of improved breeding lines and hybrid parents developed at ICRISAT and their extensive use both by the public and private sector research organizations in hybrid development have been central to this success

publication date

  • 2015