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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

Lead institution: Purdue University
Award amount: $775,000
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 sorghums have been a great source of novel genes and valuable traits for improving the sorghum crop worldwide. Modern sorghum breeders have heavily relied on the natural diversity in sorghum landraces in search of useful traits in advancing sorghum as a feed crop in major economies, particularly in the Americas and Australia. Unfortunately, sorghum improvement in Africa lags far behind the successes that the crop has enjoyed in these other geographies. It is possible that modern research advances made on sorghum improvement in these advanced economies may benefit current and future sorghum research efforts in Africa.

This project proposes to employ tools of biotechnology, breeding, and agronomy to unleash the potential of the crop for needy farmers. They will work as members of a team in developing a core-set of sorghum germplasm population to characterize the inherent variability through genotyping by sequencing. The team will couple that with phenotyping of valuable traits under target environments, and treating data with appropriate bioinformatics and statistical procedures to identify useful allelic variations for drought and Striga resistance. They will develop local capacity and restore rigor and discipline to the Ethiopian sorghum breeding program to produce superior sorghum cultivars on a regular basis.

The project aims to develop a functional sorghum breeding program in Ethiopia focused on the development of adapted, high yielding sorghum hybrid cultivars for broad societal impact. They will promote the use of hybrid cultivars to strengthen the seed supply value chain and catalyze the development of a commercial sorghum seed enterprise system in the country. Building a commercial value chain system for sorghum in Africa is among the most badly needed investments in Africa.

For more information about the project, contact:

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