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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 688 kg /ha in 2000-01 to 1243 kg/ha during 2018-19 (Fig.1). This is a creditable achievement considering pearl millet as a predominant crop of arid and drier semi-arid tropics that are starved of soil fertility and water. The total production has almost doubled from 3.42 m tones to 8.83 m tones.

Fig. 1: Area, production and productivity of Pearl millet in India since 2000-01

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.

The 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%).

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