Post-rainy sorghum improvement program showcased at field day

ICRISAT staff giving participants a tour of the sorghum fields on the ICRISAT campus.

Post-rainy sorghum improvement program showcased at field day

Participants visiting a field on the ICRISAT campus.

Participants visiting a field on the ICRISAT campus.
Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

Post-rainy sorghum, once considered to be a subsistence crop in the semi-arid tropics of South Asia, is now yielding marketable surpluses of quality grain and fodder which are helping farmers realize higher prices for their products. The current market price of post-rainy sorghum is among the highest in food grains.

To showcase the diversity in the post-rainy sorghum material bred for various traits and nuances through ICRISAT’s sorghum improvement program, a field day was organized at the ICRISAT headquarters on 17-18 February. A total of 23 public sector and 15 private sector scientists took part in the event.

Director General Dr William Dar, in his inaugural message, urged sorghum scientists to diversify sorghum-based products to create market demand, and effectively communicate information on improved products and technologies developed through research

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partnerships to smallholder farmers. “Only then can we be able to arrest the decline in sorghum cultivation area and make it a more competitive crop to benefit the smallholder farmers in the semi-arid tropics,” Dr Dar said.

 A scientist examining post-rainy sorghum.

A scientist examining post-rainy sorghum.

Dr CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General – Research also called on the sorghum scientists to develop game-changing products and technologies.

Drs Trushar Shah, Scientist (Bioinformatics) and Ashok Kumar, Senior Scientist (Sorghum Breeding), presented a brief account of the post-rainy sorghum crop and the changing scenario in the light of interventions under HOPE project.

All the participants visited the fields on the ICRISAT campus to see the best material under demonstration for various traits. While appreciating the progress in enhancing genetic diversity in the post-rainy sorghum materials and in the development of improved varieties, hybrid parents and hybrids, the participants asked for increasing restoration ability in hybrids and for developing mechanical harvesters to cope with labor shortages during harvesting.

This activity was carried out through the HOPE project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals.