Partnerships pay dividends for Maharashtra’s HOPE farmers
Cultivated on close to 3 million hectares, sorghum is an important food and fodder crop in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra, India. Poor adoption of improved varieties and cultivation technology by farmers and frequent terminal moisture stress affect grain yields. Till recently, in the absence of a good seed system to deliver new varieties, farmers had been using established old varieties like M 35-1 and Dagadi local.
ICRISAT has been working in partnership with Marathwada Agricultural University (MAU), Parbhani and Mahatma Phule Agricultural University (MPKV), Rahuri on the genetic enhancement of postrainy season sorghum in six clusters — Sanpuri (Parbhani district), Limbaganesh (Beed) and Wakulni (Jalna) in Marathwada area and Hivare Bazar (Ahmednagar), Borkarwadi (Pune) and Aurad ( South Sholapur) under Western Maharashtra — with the objective of reducing the gap between on-station grain yields (2.5−3.0t ha-1) and on-farm yields (0.58 t ha-1) to enhance food security and increase farm incomes.
The first two years of the project covered 17,400 farmers (6,960 ha), supplying them with improved seeds, technologies, and knowledge and putting in place input, credit and market linkages to enhance production and profitability, strengthening the sorghum value chain in the project areas. These efforts led to substantial increase in grain productivity by 49% and stover productivity by 28%, benefitting more than 17,000 farm families. Based on the markets price received by farmers for their grain and fodder, the direct economic benefit to the region has been to the tune of `50 million (US$ 1,000,000) in the last two years.Seed of released varieties from partner institutions such as Parbhani Moti, Parbhani Jyoti, Phule Vasudha, Phule Chitra and Akola Kranti have been distributed for cultivation to project farmers.
Into its third crop season, following are some of the major outputs from partnership activities:
- Techniques to screen for resistance to sugarcane aphid under greenhouse conditions, field net-house screening technique, and leaf disc assay in the lab have been standardized and 25 sources of aphid resistance identified
- Methodology for testing photoperiod-sensitivity and cold tolerance developed;2 promising hybrid parents and 5 sorghum varieties identified
- Molecular diversity among 48 postrainy cultivars/accessions was estimated. Substantial diversity is available in Durra accessions from East Africa for improving postrainy sorghum material. All these lines were used in the crossing program at ICRISAT-Patancheru and new F3s were generated from this material.
- Genetic base diversification of hybrid parents undertaken for grain and stover yields, shoot fly resistance and charcoal rot resistance. Improved hybrids (3) and hybrid parents (10) were identified with bold lustrous grain, high yield and shoot fly and charcoal rot resistance.
- Five improved sorghum hybrids for postrainy adaptation with significant heterosis (20-33%) over the best hybrid check CSH 15 R were developed through multilocation testing
- 290 new F1s were developed involving parents from Highland Eritrea, Bold Grain Yemen, Muskwari and new promising postrainy varieties and released