Broadening the Genetic Base of Grain Cereals uri icon


  • Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L). R. Br.) is cultivated on more than 8 million ha in India, ranking third after rice and wheat in acreage. It is an important source of staple food for human beings and valuable source of fodder for livestock in marginal environments. A significant portion of pearl millet grain is also used for non-food purposes such as poultry and cattle feed and alcohol extraction. Pearl millet improvement research in India is coordinated through the All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) under the aegis of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Enormous accomplishments have been made in pearl millet improvement during the last 25 years. This chapter presents an overview of achievements in genetic improvement, cultural practices, disease and insect-pest management, seed production and value addition. Germplasm from diverse genetic backgrounds and breeding materials with adequate disease resistance have been utilized in hybrid parental line breeding programmes leading towards development of hybrids with good adaptation to diverse production environments. During the last 25 years, a total of 115 improved cultivars were released, which provided a wider cultivar choice to farmers in various agro-ecological regions. Agronomic research led to the establishment of detailed recommendations for agroecology specific pearl millet zones which made it possible to harness the yield potential of high-yielding hybrids and varieties. High-yielding hybrids and open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) have been widely adopted by Indian farmers. Currently, nearly 65 % of pearl millet area is under improved cultivars, mainly hybrids. A genetic linkage map of pearl millet has been developed, and quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified for traits of economic importance to facilitate molecular marker-assisted selection. Several processing technologies have been standardized to popularize pearl millet-based traditional and health food products. In the future climate change scenario, pearl millet being a highly climate resilient crop will play a greater role in providing food and nutritional security

publication date

  • 2016