Ethiopian Scientists Develop New Sorghum Variety

Ethiopia releases new, perennial sorghum variety. (Photo: Farmer examining heads of Sorghum/Copyright: Panos)

SciDev.Net

By: Biruktayet Bihon

[ADDIS ABABA] Ethiopian scientists have developed a new sorghum variety that could lead to multiple yields annually.

According to the National Statistics Agency in Ethiopia, the country has almost two million hectares of sorghum fields, and harvests about four million tonnes of sorghum grains every year.

The new sorghum variety is expected to produce yields two to three times a year with continuous water supply and at least once when there is water scarcity, said Gethaun Mekuriya, Ethiopia’s minister of science and technology, during the release of the new variety in Ethiopia last month (28 June).

“The benefit of this new variety is … that once you sow it, you don’t need to till the land for up to five years.” — Talegeta Loul, Re-nature Eternal Life Agro Processing SC

Talegeta Loul, general manager of Ethiopia-based Re-nature Eternal Life Agro Processing SC, said that the national average yield for sorghum is about 2,400 kilograms per hectare, but the new variety could increase yields fivefold.

One of the new variety’s unique characteristic, according to Loul, is that it can produce yields for seven to ten growing years without the need for ploughing.

Loul, who led the research team to produce the new sorghum variety, told SciDev.Net: “We have struggled enough to give an output for this country where the majority of the people depend on agriculture for food and livelihoods.”

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