BSF PROJECT - Fourth Cycle

Exploring wide crosses derived crop biodiversity (sorghum x maize) for climate resilience and food and nutrition security in Eastern and Southern Africa


Where will we work?

Smallholder agriculture accounts for approximately 70% of the food produced and consumed in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). However, agricultural productivity in ESA remains low. Sorghum and pearl millet, two important crops for food security in marginalized arid and semi-arid communities, receive minimal investment towards their development and the creation of added value.

This Benefit-sharing Fund project will develop sorghum and pearl millet value chains, including novel technologies appropriately adapted to local contexts and farming systems of smallholder farmers in Uganda and Zimbabwe.

What will we do?

  • Support farmers to sustainably use and conserve Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA);
  • Characterisation, phenotyping, evaluation, documentation and pre-breeding for traits of importance to climate change adaptation and resilience;
  • Secure and leverage additional resources to scale up project interventions in marginalized communities;
  • Involve women as major knowledge holders of PGRFA and crucial players in planned activities;
  • Develop a strong consortium of Treaty stakeholders collaborating to enhance implementation and visibility of Treaty activities.

What is expected to be achieved?

The project will integrate novel sorghum germplasm derived from a wide cross between sorghum and maize with adapted local germplasm. Specific emphasis will be placed on identifying varieties with potential for achieving added value. Adapted sorghum and pearl millet are expected to address resilience and food and nutrition challenges in Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as offer niche market opportunities by transforming these low value subsistence crops into high value cash crops.

In this way, the project will empower smallholder farmers, increase productivity, increase farm incomes, enhance resilience, and improve sustainable livelihoods for rural marginalized communities in the target areas.

Moreover, the enabling environment for Treaty implementation in the region will be strengthened, as will partnerships across the sorghum and pearl millet value chain and within and across Contracting Parties of the Treaty.

Who will benefit?

Four dryland small grain cereals breeding programs within the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) – including the Lupane State University (LSU), Sorghum and Millets Research Units (SMRU), Matopos Research Station, Zimbabwe, and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) –will be the direct beneficiaries of this project with regard to on-station management, conservation, sustainable use and variety development. At least 20 experts involved in the project as scientists, technicians, extension agents, national focal points, and inspectors for regulatory agencies shall directly benefit from implementing the current project; and at least 100 farmers shall benefit directly from the project as lead or model farmers. Over 1,000 other farmers will benefit through project support for maintenance and conservation of agro-biodiversity in areas with high food insecurity and vulnerability to climate change in Uganda and Zimbabwe.


Pearl Millet, Sorghum

Region: Africa

Target Countries: Uganda, Zimbabwe

Implementing institution: National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)-National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI)