Burkina Faso approves commercial use of first pear millet hybrid

BURKINA FASO – The National Seed Committee of Burkina Faso, has announced the registration of the country’s first pearl millet hybrid in the National Seed Catalog.

Commonly known as Nafagnon, the grain is the first single-cross hybrid to be approved in West and Central Africa, and was developed by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a not-for-profit international agricultural research organization in Niger.

Also identified as, ICRISAT Millet Hybrid (ICMH) 147007, the millet variety was evaluated in Burkina Faso by the Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), specialized institutes of the National Center for Scientific and Technological Research (CNRST) in the country.

Inclusive participation

Nafiagnon, the first hybrid, is another important contribution to improve the livelihood of farmers.”

Dr. Ramadjita Tabo – Regional and Research Program Director for ICRISAT-WCA

The hybrid resulted from the activities of HOPE-2 project, funded by the Gates Foundation, HarvestPlus, GIZ, CGIAR Research Program Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, INERA, seed companies such as NAFASO, FAGRI and EPAM in Burkina Faso.

INERA’s approach to millet hybrid development and commercialization in Burkina Faso involved partnerships with farmers and the private sector.

Nafiagnon was tested by more than 500 farmers and three seed companies – NAFASO, FAGRI and EPAM – were involved.

“The strong research for development partnership between ICRISAT and INERA has been benefiting smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso. Nafiagnon, the first hybrid, is another important contribution to improve the livelihood of farmers,” said Dr. Ramadjita Tabo, Regional and Research Program Director for ICRISAT-WCA.

Suited for the region

The crop is tailored for the region as it possess ideal characteristics such as being high-yielding, 45% higher than the popular variety in the region known as Misari-1.

In addition, Nafagnon matures early in 80-85 days and has a yield potential of about 3 tons per hectare; early maturity helps overcome terminal drought stress.

Further to that, it is more resistant to downy mildew and is a dual-purpose crop suitable for food and fodder.

According to CGIAR, the seed size, yield potential, stay-green and earliness of the hybrid are traits highly preferred by farmers and end users in Burkina Faso, where low yield of pearl millet varieties relative to other cereals is forcing farmers away from one of the best suited crops for Sahel’s harsh agro-ecologies.

“The first hybrid millets that were tested in West and Central Africa were bred in India. Unfortunately, they were too early maturing and susceptible to downy mildew disease.

“Learning lessons from those assessments, ICMH 147007 was developed, evaluated and selected in the WCA region,” said Dr. Gangashetty, millet breeder for ICRISAT-WCA, Niger.

The registration of Nafagnon is an indication that it has been approved for commercial use in Burkina Faso, and will soon be included in the next seed catalog of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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