Seed production systems hasten spread of improved varieties
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CTA. 1995. Seed production systems hasten spread of improved varieties . Spore 59. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47162
Thousands of farmers in Chad are growing improved varieties of pear) millet. The rapid adoption of new varieties is the result of an efficient seed production system. In recent years the rainfall season has been getting shorter in the region, so...
Thousands of farmers in Chad are growing improved varieties of pear) millet. The rapid adoption of new varieties is the result of an efficient seed production system. In recent years the rainfall season has been getting shorter in the region, so varieties that match this new pattern better are needed. Plant breeders at the Sahelian Centre of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Niger, have responded by developing short maturity varieties of pearl millet. However, they have been careful to develop varieties that can reliably produce good yields under low input conditions. One variety, GB 8735, meets these criteria, and was tested on selected farmers' fields where it performed so well that many other farmers requested the seed. To meet the demand, a seed production and distribution system has been established with assistance from FAO and UNDP. Leading farmers are contracted to multiply the seed and, once harvested, seed is weighed into packets of up to one kilogram. These are distributed to village shops at prices that farmers can afford. The system has enabled over 15,000 farmers to grow GB 8735 and the demand is growing ICRISAT has found that in other countries, where there is no seed distribution system, the probability of an improved variety reaching farmers is low. ICRISAT plant breeders are also looking for ways to improve the digestibility of pearl millet straw. Digestibility and platability are closely tied to two genes: the brown-rib gene which reduces the lignin content of the straw, and the trichomeless (hairless) gene removes the hairs which animals find irritating. Selection for these genes will ultimately improve straw as an animal feed, but it may be several years before varieties are available. ICRISAT Sahelian Centre B P 12404 Niamey NIGER