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Pearl Millet

Why pearl millet? 

Pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] is the seventh most important cereal crop globally. It is grown in more than 30 countries in the arid and semi-arid tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America and is used for food, feed and fodder. It is a very resilient crop, able to withstand harsh conditions, and is mostly grown under hot, dry conditions on infertile soils of low water-holding capacity, where other crops generally fail.

What we achieved


  • 187 seed samples of 20 pearl millet crop wild relative (CWR) species were collected in nine countries: Armenia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan and Uganda.

Pre-breeding and evaluation

  • Four pre-breeding populations were developed by crossing two P. glaucum ssp. violaceum accessions with four pearl millet cultivars.
  • 18 introgression lines (ILs) were identified with improved seed set under high heat stress compared with the commercial check.
  • 35 ILs were identified with higher fodder dry matter yields than the commercial check.
  • Lines resistant to blast were identified in screening trials in India.
  • Lines tolerant to Striga were identified in preliminary screening trials in Niger.
  • Promising ILs have been conserved in the R.S. Paroda genebank at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India, and available for sharing through SMTA.

Project partners


  • Armenian Botanical Society, Yerevan, Armenia
  • Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute, Accra, Ghana
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
  • National Agriculture Genetic Resources Center, Khumaltar, Nepal
  • National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Plant Genetic Resources Program, Bio-Resources Conservation Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Research Centre, Wad Medani, Sudan
  • Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Entebbe, Uganda

Pre-breeding and evaluation

Lead Institute: ICRISAT, Patancheru, India.


  • Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred Private Ltd, Hyderabad, India
  • Meta-helix Lifesciences Ltd. (A Tata Enterprise), Hyderabad, India
  • Bayer BioSciences Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad, India

Pearl millet key collections, materials and data

Pearl millet collections

  • The largest pearl millet collection is conserved at ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India.
  • Of the 187 samples collected, 128 samples of 20 species from seven countries are conserved in the Millenium Seed Bank.
  • The Genesys PGR database also includes information about pearl millet accessions in genebanks worldwide

Pre-breeding materials 

  • The four pre-breeding populations are conserved in the medium-term cold room of Theme Pre-breeding at ICRISAT, Patancheru, India and are available for sharing through SMTA.
  • Promising ILs are conserved in the R.S. Paroda genebank at ICRISAT, Patancheru, India, and available for sharing through SMTA.


Pearl millet stories

Crop Trust stories
Partner stories
Relevant publications
  • Boateng, S.K., Aboagye, L.M., Egbadzor, K.F., Darko, R.K., Ameka, G.K., Ekpe, P., Kanton, R., Dogbe, W., Saaka-Buah, S. 2019. Collecting of crop wild relatives and minor crops in Ghana. Research in Agricultural & Veterinary Sciences 3(2): 89–95.
  • Sharma, R., Sharma, S., Gate, V.L. 2020. Tapping Pennisetum violaceum, a wild relative of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), for resistance to blast (caused by Magnaporthe grisea) and rust (caused by Puccinia substriata var. indica). Plant Disease 104(5).
  • Sharma, S., Sharma, R., Govindaraj, M., Mahala, R.S., Satyavathi, CT., Srivastava, R.K., Gumma, M.K., Kilian, B. 2021. Harnessing wild relatives of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L. R. Br) for germplasm enhancement: challenges and opportunities. Crop Science 61(1): 177–200.
  • Sharma, S., Sharma, R., Pujar, M., Yadav, D., Yadav, Y., Rathore, A., Mahala, R.S., Singh, I., Verma, Y., Deora, V.S., Vaid, B., Jayalekha, A.K., Gupta, S.K. 2021. Use of wild Pennisetum species for improving biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.). Crop Science 61(1): 289–304.
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