Seed companies in West Africa eye pearl millet hybrid with 70% higher yield potential

A newly developed pearl millet hybrid, with 70% yield-gain potential and high disease resistance, has caught the attention of private seed companies in Niger.

A delegation of seed manufacturers visiting ICRISAT’s research station in Sadoré on 15 February was keen to adopt the hybrid, ICMH 177111, after learning about its performance. The hybrid was tested at more than 15 experimental sites from 2016-18. It has high resistance to downy mildew and produces grain yields between 2.5 and 2.8 tons per hectare. On over 2500 farmers’ fields across Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ghana, it outperformed control varieties (e.g. ICMH 147007).

“Hybrid pearl millet is good for farmers, youth and seed companies. It can create good seed business, job creation for youth and high yields for farmers,” said Mr Issoufou Maizama, President, Niger Private Seed Companies Association (APPSN). Two companies, AINOMA and Halal, have already expressed interest to produce and commercialize ICMH 177111 in the rainy season of 2019.

Members of the APPSN delegation also learned that the seed parent (ICMA/B 177002 from Niger) and restorer parent (ICMR 0888 from Senegal and Nigeria) flower at the same time. Hence, there is no need of staggered flowering for commercial hybrid seed production. The ratio 6:2 of female to male in seed production gives a relatively high yield of hybrid seed, offering opportunities for commercialization and profit making in West Africa.

The delegation was headed by Mrs Salamatou Hassane, Head, Seed Control, Office of Director of Seed Control, and Mr Thomas François, Head of Seed Certification, Office of the Director of Seed Certification.

ICMH 177111 was developed as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain legumes and Dryland Cereals (CRP GLDC) investment in pearl millet improvement for West Africa. It is a joint effort with the national agricultural research systems (NARS) partners from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN) and the Institut Sénégalais de la Recherche Agricole (ISRA), with additional funding from the Harvest Plus Generation Challenge program (part of CRP A4NH) and BMZ funding for hybrid pearl millet improvement in Niger and Senegal.

Mr Issoufou Maizama, President, APPSN, explaining the importance of hybrid pearl millet in Niger during the visit. Photos: PI Gangashetty, ICRISAT

Mr Issoufou Maizama, President, APPSN, explaining the importance of hybrid pearl millet in Niger during the visit. Photos: PI Gangashetty, ICRISAT

To know more about ICRISAT’s work in Niger, click here.

Project:  Breeding pearl millet for improved human nutrition in West Africa.

CGIAR Research Program: Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC), Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)

Funder:  Harvest Plus

Partners: INRAN, Niger; ISRA, Senegal; Institut de l’Environnement et Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso; Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), Mali; Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria; Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Ghana; AINOMA Seed Farm, Niger; and Halal Seed company, Niger.

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