Planting sorghum at the Tozzi Green test field.

Wet season testing of sorghum seed varieties underway in Madagascar

Wet season testing of sorghum seed varieties is underway at 12 locations in six key regions of Madagascar as a first step in increasing sorghum production and developing the sorghum value chain in the country through a USAID-funded project administered by the Global Collaboration on Sorghum and Millet (GCSM) at Kansas State University.

The GCSM has been engaged to enhance sorghum production, strengthen markets and support national coordination in close partnership with both public and private partners in Madagascar.  

The USAID-funded project Climate Adapted Cropping Systems & Value Chains Development / Sorghum, Pearl Millet & Groundnut has three main goals:

  • Improve the productivity and profitability of farmers by introducing new adapted varieties and agronomic practices for sorghum, pearl millet and groundnuts into the seed system. 
  • Enhance the agricultural value chain of these important commodities through the adoption of new technologies and market opportunities. 
  • Develop a national public and private stakeholder working platform in Madagascar.

Drawing from the Conférence Nationale Pour L’Autosuffisance Alimentaire report in June 2022, GCSM will focus on building a belt of dryland farming systems from the northwest to the southeast. 

Test plots were chosen within the Malagasy Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock’s target areas to increase sorghum production

To facilitate the project, Dr. Alemu Tirfessa, who leads the sorghum research program under the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), was engaged to consult on implementing field testing and developing protocols for growing sorghum in Madagascar.

Local students received equipment and training in its use to document the growing season and measure the success of the varieties under testing. 

The 16 varietals were obtained through AGRIMA and distributed through FOFIFA to the different test sites in Madagascar.

As the team traveled through the country, they met with other partner organizations, including NCBA and CLUSA, to identify test sites and establish connections with local farmers. 

Additional field testing will be conducted during the dry season following the first round of testing during the wet season.

As open-pollinated varieties and hybrids are deemed appropriate for the local environments, the seed will go into the seed system for multiplication. The hope is to produce two to three tons of seed from the three to four most successful varieties. 

Then, 1,500 seed packets will be made available to 1,500 smallholder farmers for scaling the production of sorghum during the rain-fed season later this year. 

Market development in partnership with large feed companies is also underway where there is a growing need to replace up to 25% of maize with sorghum in poultry feed formulations.  

The GCSM is working with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, administered by the University of Georgia, to implement the two-year, USAID-funded project to rapidly develop these value chains.