2. Mali: Hybrid sorghum varieties promise higher yields (AGRA)

| November 16, 2009

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Sorghum is the crop of choice for many Malian farmers. The plant is naturally drought resistant, making it a reliable staple grain. However, sorghum isn’t a high yielding crop. After years of breeding, Malian plant scientists have changed that. They have created a hybrid sorghum that could double yields.

Aboubacar Toure is a program officer with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, or AGRA. AGRA supported the development of the hybrids by the Rural Economic Institute of Mali.

Mr. Toure explains that local and foreign sorghum cultivars were bred together to create the hybrids. They were tested in the Sahel and Sudan zones of Mali.

Under the same growing conditions, the hybrids produce greater yields than regular sorghum. Local sorghum produces about 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare. The hybrid varieties can produce between three and four metric tonnes per hectare.

The Rural Economic Institute of Mali will promote hybrid sorghum to farmers over the next year. They will also train seed producers to breed the hybrids.

Hybrid seeds will come at a higher price. Regular sorghum seed currently costs about 300 CFA francs (about 70 American cents or 0.45 Euros) per kilogram. It’s expected that the hybrid sorghum seed will sell for twice the price, at 600 CFA francs (about 1.4 American dollars or 0.9 Euros) per kilogram.