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Agricultural innovation: New sorghum hybrid with a 25% increase in yield released in Zimbabwe

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20 February 2023, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwean farmers are poised for greater yield and income gains as a result of a recent agricultural innovation breakthrough – the release of a new hybrid of white sorghum (great millet) that also promises greater resilience to erratic rainfall.

Collaboration between ICRISAT and the Pan African Seed Company, the Seed Co Group, resulted in the development of the new variety that has a yield potential of up to 8 tonnes per hectare, offering farmers a 25% yield increase over existing varieties.

Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, said the release of this new sorghum hybrid is a significant achievement resulting from innovative research conducted through the Sorghum and Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (SPMHPRC).

“This breakthrough is a prime example of how ICRISAT’s research efforts are contributing to the well-being of farmers and their families across the Continent, to global food and nutritional security, and ultimately, to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“I thank the Seed Co Group and our other partners for this innovation which marks another significant step towards a more resilient and food-secure future for Africa” said Dr Hughes.

Seed-Co Global Research & Development Head, Dr Gorden Mabuyaye said that their partnership with ICRISAT strives to bring innovative and high-performing seeds to market.

“Our partnership is making a positive impact on farmers and their incomes and this new hybrid will go a long way in mitigating the effects of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa” said Dr Mabuyaye.

Dr Hapson Mushoriwa, ICRISAT’s Principal Scientist for Eastern and Southern Africa, added that the new variety matures between 85 to 118 days, has good resistance to common leaf diseases and its strong straw structure helps maintain plant stability, which is essential for efficient and profitable crop production.

“I am pleased that this new hybrid is well-adapted to the agro-climatic conditions of Zimbabwe and offers a promising solution to sorghum farmers, particularly in those regions with moderate to erratic rainfall patterns,” said Dr Mushoriwa.

Dr Rebbie Harawa, ICRISAT’s Regional Director and Country Representative – Kenya, Eastern & Southern Africa, applauded all stakeholders in the development of the hybrid and for their tenacity in managing its multi-environment trials over three successive cropping seasons.

“The SPMHPRC had been a key factor in enabling ICRISAT and its partners to pool their resources and expertise to develop new varieties that are well adapted to the needs of farmers and the market, and this is another example of this success,” said Dr Harawa.

Characteristics

CharacteristicsSC XH101
Yield potentialUp to 8 tons/hectare
Plant height (cm)76
Days of Maturity 
Lowveld (below 800 m)85
Middleveld (800 – 1,200 m)114
Highveld (over 1,200 m)118
Leaf blight score2.0
Sooty stripe score3.0
Mass/1,000 (g)27
Grain colorWhite
Principle useFood and feed

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