The project “Improving finger millet productivity through exploitation of wild germplasm (Eleusine spp.)” is implemented by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Nairobi, Kenya; Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), Kisii, Kenya and Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya. This project will run from 2015 – 2018.
Finger millet (Eleusine coracana L. Gaertn) is an important traditional food crop in East Africa belonging to Poaceae family, Chloridoideae sub-family. Productivity of finger millet in East Africa is very low at about 1.3 t/ha in comparison to its potential of over 10 t/ha.
This project is aims to address the low productivity of finger millet in East Africa through the use of wild relatives. Wild finger millet relatives, abundant in the region, can be potential sources of valuable traits to improve overall productivity. The introgression of adaptive traits, such as drought tolerance, blast and striga resistance, and superior nutritional quality from wild finger millet accessions into farmer-preferred varieties is the main focus. A collection of wild finger millet accessions already available at ICRISAT-Nairobi and Maseno University will be used in this project.
It is expected that by the end of the project, at least three inter-specific mapping populations will have been developed, specific backcross populations generated, and phenotypic and molecular information developed. This project will directly benefit breeders from the participating institutions and the finger millet breeding community as a whole. Subsequent beneficiaries will be farmers and consumers, majority of whom are women.