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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet

Genetic enhancement of sorghum to promote commercial seed supply and grain market development in Ethiopia

Lead institution: Purdue University
Award amount: $912,703
Focus country: Ethiopia

Sorghum field

Principal investigator: Gebisa Ejeta
U.S. collaborating institutions: Purdue University, Kansas State University
International collaborating institutions:Ethiopia - Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) (Melkassa Research Center, Sirinka Research Center), Holleta Biotechnology Center, Tigray Regional Program, Oromia Regional Program, Haramaya University

Ethiopian sorghum landraces exhibit native genetic variation for drought and Striga resistance which this project aims to exploit in development of sorghum cultivars with resistance to these important stresses. The project employs biotechnology, breeding and agronomy to unleash the potential of the crop for Ethiopian farmers. The team is developing a core set of sorghum germplasm population to characterize the inherent variability through large-scale, high-throughput genotyping and coupling this practice with phenotyping of valuable traits under target environments. Data is then treated with appropriate bioinformatics and statistical procedures to identify useful allelic variation for drought and Striga resistance. This sill be enhanced by the development of local capacity and the restoration of rigor and discipline to the Ethiopian sorghum breeding program to produce superior sorghum on a regular basis. Project researchers will cooperate with agronomists and economists to develop a package of genetic and crop management practices to control stresses and optimize yields.

At the highest level, the project aims to develop a functional sorghum breeding program in Ethiopia focused on the development of adapted, high-yielding sorghum varieties and hybrids for broad societal impact. The use of hybrid cultivars will be promoted to strengthen the seed supply value chain and catalyze the development of a commercial sorghum seed enterprise system in the country. These activities will serve as part of the larger national effort in building local capacity, strengthening the institutions of education, research, extension, and input systems for development, and for advancing science-based development to impart livelihood change for smallholder sorghum farmers of Ethiopia.

For more information about the project, contact:

Gebisa EjetaDr. Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor
Purdue University
Lilly 2-363 - Department of Agronomy
West Lafayette, IN 47907
+1-765-494-4320
gejeta@purdue.edu