Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.)] Breeding in Ethiopia: Review

Chemeda Birhanu Chala


Sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L)] is fifth important cereal crop belonging to monocotyledon grass Poaceae family adapted to arid and semi-arid where other cereal crops cannot survive; serving as staple food for millions of Sub Saharan Africa and Asian countries where food security is rampant. The crop is indigenous to Ethiopian as far as its domestication has long time and genetic diversity exhibited variation among cultivated and wild relatives of the crop concentrated in the country. The existence of tremendous amount sorghum variability exhibiting native genetic variation to drought, disease and insect resistance, having good grain quality and high lysine, made Ethiopia as genetic resource reservoir ranking first in contributing germplasm collection worldwide in today’s sorghum breeding program. Ethiopian ‘zera zera’ sorghum landraces and line developed from them being involved in hybrid development at ICRISAT and other countries in modern sorghum breeding program. Currently, sorghum is the third important cereal crop in both area coverage and production becoming the second in ‘injera’ making after ‘tef’ in Ethiopia. Sorghum breeding in Ethiopia has a long history began at Alemaya College of Agriculture and germplasma provision through collection started by Jimma Agricultural Technical School. The establishment of ESIP with fully funded by IDRC, formalized sorghum research in Ethiopia in early 1970s. In last four decades since today, considerable sorghum breeding progress has been made by dividing the sorghum growing areas in to four major traditional agro ecologies: dry lowland, humid lowland, intermediate altitude and high elevation areas. Problem identification and breeding strategy has been conducted according to categorized agro ecologies and efforts has been made in developing high yielder variety, resistance breeding viz drought, disease, insect and striga from existing genetic variability in local landraces and introduced materials. Beginning in early 1970s to date which was accounted about four decades, in sorghum breeding program about forty nine (49) improved sorghum varieties with various desirable characteristics were released for the four major agro ecologies. However, sorghum breeding in Ethiopia still not advanced using the existing genetically diverse sorghum resource. Particularly, application of Biotechnology in crop improvement is limited; hence reviewer recommended that further crop improvement using advanced breeding technology to be considered accordingly.

Keywords: Variability, Sorghum bicolor

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3208 ISSN (Online)2225-093X

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