System of Promoting Appropriate National Dynamism
for Agriculture and Nutrition


Genetic Improvement of Pearl Millet in India

Publisher: National Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] is grown widely in the arid and semi-arid tropical regions in Indian subcontinent and African continent under the most adverse agro-climatic conditions where other crops like sorghum and maize fail to produce economic yields. Its grains are valued as human food while its dry stover makes important livestock ration in crop–livestock farming system. Enormous progress has been made in the genetic improvement of pearl millet in India during last several decades. This paper presents an overview of strategies followed in genetic improvement of pearl millet, assesses the impact of this research on crop productivity and presents its future prospects in climate-change scenario for providing food and nutritional security. The genetic improvement programme evolved strongly starting from selection in local and traditional material and reaching development of high-yielding hybrids with in-built resistance to diseases and tolerance to climatic stresses like drought and heat. The major approach in hybrid breeding has been to strategically utilize germplasm from Africa and Indian subcontinent with the result that a large number of genetically diverse hybrids have been developed with different combinations of phenotypic traits that are important for adaptation to different ecological regions. The genetic diversification of hybrids has proved very critical to contain downy mildew epidemics which had threatened hybrid technology per se in mid-1970s.

Author(s): K.N. Rai, O.P. Yadav | Views(358) | Download (143)

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