A Diagnostic Appraisal of Sorghum Farming in Striga Endemic Areas of Eritrea

  •  Tadesse Yohannes    
  •  Kahiu Ngugi    
  •  Emmanuel Ariga    
  •  Monday Ahonsi    
  •  Nasser Yao    
  •  Tesfamichael Abraha    


Sorghum (Sorghum bicolour (L.) Moench), the most important cereal crop in Eritrea, is grown in more than 210,000 ha annually but its productivity is hampered by many factors including: farmer perception, lack of appropriate varieties, undeveloped seed systems, drought stress and Striga infestation. This study was aimed at understanding the sorghum smallholder livelihoods, farming systems, Striga incidence and infestation levels, and types of varieties grown in Striga infested sorghum growing areas. A semi structured questionnaire and focused group discussions were used to gather information from a total of 136 randomly selected farmers from three Striga endemic sub-regions of Eritrea namely, Hamelmalo, Goluj, and Tesseney. The results indicated that the most important cereal crops in the study area were sorghum, pear millet, ground nut and sesame. The most important constraint to sorghum production was identified as drought stress followed by Striga infestation. The majority of the respondents (81.6%) reported that their sorghum was affected by Striga and the level of infestation varied from mild (10%) to severe (70% and above). Small-holder farmers also indicated that high grain yield, drought tolerance/resistance and Striga resistance were their most important criteria when selecting sorghum varieties. Up to 31 different landraces were listed as the most popular in the study area. The dominant source of seed for cultivation was the local varieties retained by farmers from previous harvests. The information documented from this study may be used in future as a basis for a participatory farmer-oriented sorghum breeding program.

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