Project activities in Asmara are reviewed
Sorghum is the most important cereal grain food staple in Eritrea with over 50% of land under cereal grains being under sorghum cultivation. Sorghum productivity trend in Eritrea is in sharp decline due to drought, Striga, lack of quality seed and low soil fertility. In an effort to overcome these constraints, ICRISAT, National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and other local partners have implemented HOPE project activities in Eritrea in order to increase sorghum productivity and household incomes through improving the farmers’ access to improved high yielding, early maturing, Striga tolerant sorghum varieties, quality seed and information on improved management practices.
On May 15, 2012, ICRISAT together with the national and local partners in Eritrea held a three day meeting to review and plan HOPE project activities. Participants of the meeting included 20 representatives from the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and 2 ICRISAT scientists – Dr. Mary Mgonja and Patrick Audi.
The main breeding thrust of the ICRISAT HOPE project in the last 2 years was to identify high yielding, early maturing and Striga tolerant sorghum variety with good household-level use qualities in the local dishes such as “injera”. This has resulted in the release, this year, of an improved variety ICSV 111IN locally known as “Seare” which means winner. Subsequently the establishment of a seed revolving fund by NARI has facilitated production of 50t of quality seed of “Seare”
for marketing and distribution to an estimated 10,000 farmers in HOPE mandate Zobas or regions in Eritrea during June-September cropping season. The seed will be sold to farmers at 25Nacfa (1.6 USD) per kg which is about 20% higher than the farm gate price for sorghum grain estimated to be 20 Nacfa (1.3 USD) per kg.
HOPE Project Scientists are planning to have demonstrations and field days focusing on integrated Striga, soil water management and distribution of small seed packs of sorghum in the Western Lowlands and Eastern Lowlands of Eritrea in an effort to enhance adoption of improved sorghum varieties as well as the recommended management practices.