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The research efforts were targeted to enhance productivity through breeding high yielding cultivars and refinement in production and protection technologies. High yielding cultivars suited to arid and semi-arid environments have been developed and quality seed of these cultivars has been made available to farmers that resulted into increase in productivity from 323 kg/ha (1950-54) to 991 kg/ha (2010) (Fig. 1). The total production has almost doubled from 3.42 m tones to 8.83 m tones.

Fig. 1: Pearl millet productivity in India from 1950 to 2010. The solid line shows the trend in productivity increase.

The downy mildew epidemics in 1970s and 1980s that threatened the sustainability of pearl millet hybrids was mainly due to the lack of diversity in the parental lines of hybrids. A large number of seed parents and restorers are now available with the result that downy mildew is largely under control. This clearly demonstrated the utility of priority given to the genetic diversification of hybrids parental lines and the utilization of sources of resistance to downy mildew, smut, ergot and smut diseases.

he HYVs cover about 50% of total pearl millet area, which is highest among coarse cereal crops. Area under HYVs is highest in Gujarat where almost whole area (>90%) has come under hybrid coverage. Although Rajasthan has the highest area under pearl millet, adoption of HYVs in this state has been very low (25-30%). The AICPMIP is now targeting Rajasthan as a major market. The area under HYVs in Rajasthan is thus likely to increase.

ICAR-AICRP on Pearl Millet, Jodhpur - 342 304, Rajasthan, India | Phone : +91 291 2571408 , Fax: +91 291 2571909