To generate step change in the capacity and productivity of sorghum breeding programs in sub-Saharan Africa and to provide a strategic platform (germplasm, tools and information) to underpin genetic gain for productivity in environments that are water limited.
Water limitation causes significant crop losses and food insecurity in major dry land sorghum growing regions, such as those in Ethiopia. There are considerable opportunities to make more effective use of available water in these environments by improved tailoring of genetic and management options. Unfortunately the capacity of Ethiopian plant breeding and agronomy programs limits their ability to exploit these opportunities. In addition, although considerable variation exists for key traits associated with water extraction and transpiration efficiency, little is known about their genetic control or efficient means to select for them in Australia and Ethiopia.
The project aims to improve sorghum productivity in drought prone areas of Ethiopia and Australia by
To achieve these goals, the program has established strong linkages with key institutions in Ethiopia to build and sustain a country-led program for sorghum improvement. Achieving productivity gains requires appropriately focused long term investment in well equipped (training and tools) and staffed crop improvement programs targeting specific environments. The project will enhance the efficiency and capacity of local programs by providing necessary equipment and mentoring via “training by doing”. The ability to integrate new technologies in molecular genetics, breeding, crop physiology, modelling and agronomy in local programs is vital to the long term prospects and enduring outcomes we seek in this project. This will require development of human and institutional capacity. We will apply and adapt the newly developed capacities in an action-learning crop improvement activity that will target the identification and development of superior genotype and management packages for the target regions. We will contribute to knowledge generation by developing a deeper understanding of the physiology and genetics of traits that determine drought tolerance in sorghum with the view to rapidly using this knowledge in applied crop improvement programs.