Sorghum seed tests move into the irrigated season

With the start of the irrigated growing season, sorghum seed testing, registration and multiplication in Madagascar are entering a new stage.

Two field locations have been planted with five varieties of open-pollinated sorghum seeds from our Pan-Africa partners in Ethiopia and West Africa, managed by our national partner, FOFIFA, in Madagascar, as part of our ongoing seed authority test sites and seed registration. Parallel to these sites, seed multiplication plots have also been planted. 

These field tests and seed multiplication are part of the Climate Adapted Cropping Systems & Value Chains Development / Sorghum, Pearl Millet & Groundnut project, a USAID-funded project led by the Global Collaboration on Sorghum and Millet in partnership with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut at the University of Georgia. Key objectives of the project are to increase production, develop markets, increase nutritional benefits at the household level and accelerate regional/national sorghum value chain platform development.

To facilitate the project, Dr. Alemu Tirfessa, who leads the sorghum research program under the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), continues to be engaged to support the FOFIFA national sorghum team as they safeguard existing sorghum biodiversity, introduce other breeding materials from our Pan-Africa network, test improved varieties for adaptation and multiply seed for use by smallholders in Madagascar.   

Dr. Tirfessa and Allain Ranivoma conducted field demonstrations on proper soil preparation and planting techniques during Dr. Tifessa’s visit to Madagascar in May at the beginning of the planting season. 

During the demonstrations, we collected instructional videos and photographs, which will be integrated into other video materials under our sorghum school to support the face-to-face transfer of knowledge about sorghum planting to other smallholder farmers in the region.

Through our more than 10 years of consistent work in other parts of Africa, our Pan-Africa partner network has enabled immediate access to 68 sorghum varieties that were gathered from the Pan-African sorghum plant breeding network. The ability to garner nationally registered seed from other African countries with similar growing environments has jump-started the project. 

Simultaneously, the team planted two additional locations with two to three sorghum varieties that the team plans to distribute for seed for the rain-fed season that starts later this year. The goal is to have 1,500 seed packets, extension training and farmer appreciation survey feedback ready for the upcoming rain-fed production season.

The GCSM team is leveraging improved open-pollinated varieties previously developed in our Pan-Africa breeding partner network through consistent USAID funding. Using these previously developed varieties will enable our in-country partner, FOFIFA, and private sector partners to implement an accelerated in-country seed registration, multiplication and scaling of improved sorghum varieties. 

“Better household nutrition through better access to improved seed for smallholder producers, their families and communities continues to be our focus,” said Nat Bascom, director of engagement and leadership for GCSM.

GCSM remains committed to its mission of enhancing household nutrition and socio-economic benefits. It will continue to leverage global expertise and resources, particularly from the African continent, to fortify the sorghum value chain.