Tackling abiotic production constraints in pearl millet and sorghum-based agricultural systems of the West African Sahel

Published on 2 July 2010

Research Areas



, , ,


Start Date: 1 April 2010 | End Date: 31 March 2013


Using an integrated genetic and natural resource management (IGNRM) approach, this project aims at enhancing adaptation of pearl millet [Pennisetum glaueum (L.) R. Br.] and sorghum [Sorghumhieolor (L.) Moench] to low-phosphorus (P) soils and water stress in the Sahelian zone of West Africa (WA). A combination of physiological experiments, classical and marker-assisted breeding research, and agronomic studies is used to tackle the combined effects of low soil P and droughts on pearl millet and sorghum growth in West Africa’s smallholder cereal production systems. In a stepwise approach the studies will unravel available genetic diversity for low-P tolerance and enhance the understanding of the relative importance of low soil P and water stress, and their interaction, for cereal productivity in the Sahel. New crop management techniques beyond fertilizer micro-dosing will be developed and tested, such as seed coating with P, promotion of symbiosis with vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM) and on-farm processing of rock phosphate (RP), to help enhancing productivity under Sahelian abiotic stress conditions. A strong focus on farmer experimentation with adapted cereal cultivars and new crop management options will help validating these techniques and contribute to early adoption and project impact. Outputs will include:

1. Variation among West African pearl millet and sorghum varieties and major mechanisms for adaptation to low-P soils understood, and promising germplasm identified.

2. Knowledge generated about interaction between P deficiency and water stress in pearl millet       and sorghum and potential indirect screening methods assessed.

3. Initial molecular markers for tolerance to low soil P identified in pearl millet and  sorghum.

4. New management options tested that enhance cereal performance under soil P deficiency and      water stress.

5. New cereal cultivars and crop management options for enhancing productivity under the combined pressure of low-P and water stress in the Sahel assessed and validated through farmer experimentation under target environment conditions.

Research Partners


, , ,

One Response to “Tackling abiotic production constraints in pearl millet and sorghum-based agricultural systems of the West African Sahel”

  1. I am interested in doing similar work with pearl millet (mahangu) in Namibia, which is faced with almost similar problems with production of mahangu which is the staple grain. Not much documented work (under correction) is available on fertility and adaption to changing environment ( consecutive floods since 2008). Main varieties are Okashana 1 and 2, Kangara (which are drought tolerant and high input) and local variety is almost extinct (which is low input but long season) Could you assist in developing a research agenda directed at these issues. Developing and testing new management option under varied rainfall conditions. Thank you

Ask a Question

You must be logged in to post a comment.