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Fonio is one of the oldest cereals from Africa (Vietmeyer N. et al., 1996). Of the three species of
the genus Digitaria, Digitaria exilis Stapf and Digitaria iburua Stapf (also called iburu fonio or
black) are the ones present in Mali. The first species is predominant and is cultivated in the
sahelian and North guinean zones. The species play an important role in food security.
The project will be implemented in Mali in the sahelian and northern guinean zones. The trial
sites for the sahelian zone are: Diakobougou Cinzana in the District of Segou, and
Baramandougou in the District of San. To the north-guinean sites are located in KГ©bili in the
District of KolondiГ©ba, Farako in the District of Sikasso, and Garalo in the District of Bougouni.
The overall objective is to promote fonio in Mali by making available to farmers improved
technologies that respond to their concerns.
Specifics objectives:
Establish, characterize and maintain a national collection of fonio;
Identify in partnership with farmers potentially productive ecotypes with a low rate of
shattering at maturity and adapted to the sahelian and northern guinean zone;
Identify by molecular characterization ecotypes for future use by plant breeders and food
Identify by culinary characterization ecotypes with a good hulling yields, better swelling
when cooked and a good chewy texture of the grains after cooking;
Identify economically profitable mineral fertilization rates for fonio;
Establish in partnership with farmers a new place for fonio in crop rotations to increase
Strengthen the capacities of farmers’ organizations by making available to them suitable,
potentially productive varieties that meet their concerns.
Improvement of productivity of the fonio concerns the production in the field and the culinary
aspects. In this project, the multidisciplinary approach will be privileged with the implication of
the breeders, the agronomists, the nutritionists and the food technologists.
A dynamic partnership using the participative selection will be established with the producers in
the implementation of the various activities, in the evaluation and the adoption of the results.
In Mali, there are the other structures which are involved in the promotion of the culture of the
fonio in the various agro-ecological zones. Some of them still have no access to the new
technologies to be proposed to the producers. Others while have technologies have and not the
appropriate methodology to reach a largest number of producers and producers.
In the first case, a partnership will be established with these structures by giving their the
appropriate technologies. In the second case, a synergy of actions will be established to help the
structures to finalize tools suited to touch in a relatively short producers' largest number.
Strongly the capacities of the members of the team will also be one of our strategies. The team is
constituted by researchers, by on farm extension agent and by producers of various levels. The
team needs to be better equipped in several domains in particular in the choice of the appropriate
statistical devices and in the communication to design better the trials and give producers the
results of research in a more understandable language.
Include a description of how your project influences agricultural systems and supports
agricultural research and development institutions.
Summary of Fonio Project activities in year one
According to the chronogram, 6 activities following were planed and were carried out.
Activity 1: Prospection and collect of local ecotypes /landraces
This activity was carried out in the Sahelian and northern guinГ©enne zones from January to
March 2011. In the sahelian zone, the regions of San, Tominian, Koro, Bankass, Baraouili, Bla
and SГ©gou were covered. Prospection in northern guinea zone related to the regions of Bougouni,
KolondiГ©ba, Kadiolo and Sikasso. It remaining KГ©niГ©ba, Koulikoro areas for prospection and
Activity 2:Characterization of the local ecotypes
Characterization was made on the 120 local ecotypes resulting from the prospection. It was made
for the whole of the ecotypes at the same time with Cinzana located in sahelian zone and with
Farako in the northern guinea zone.
Characterization was made by researchers and farmers. We found a great diversity of cycle
(early, medium and late maturity), grain size, number of racemes, length of racemes and for the
Activity 3: Fertilization
Development of mineral fertilization complexes formula for the improvement of the output
profits of the fonio in Sahelian and Northern GuinГ©enne zones of Mali was carried out in two
research stations in Cinzana and Farako. In this study, specific objectives were to evaluate the
effects of various amounts of complex mineral manures on the output grains of the fonio and to
identify and propose an optimal amount of mineral manure complexes for the fertilization of the
Two varieties and two types of manure were used. In Cinzana, a test was growing up after
groundnut. In Farako, we set up two tests: first test in a homogenized field (with corn without
fertilization) and second test in a field after cotton.
Activity 4:Molecular characterization of local ecotypes
During this year, molecular characterization was not made. The work primarily concerned the
culture out of pot of the 120 ecotypes which were collected in the country. Each ecotype was
thinned out has 1 seedling by seed hole. With the flowering, 2 panicles of each ecotype were
shelf pollinated. Seeds produced will be sown in pots in second year and samples on the sheets of
the seedlings will be taken for a molecular characterization
Activity 5: Technological characterization
This activity was focused on the output with dehusking. They were carried out on the 120
ecotypes which were collected around the country. Dehusking was preceded by cleaning the
samples what considerably slowed down work because of the presence of too much impurity in
samples. The results of only one replication are available. Work will continue next year starting
from the samples which will result from the characterization.
Activity 6 : Diversity field fora / farmer field school
The main objective was to strengthen farmer capacity through training and field activities.
Activities started since Jun and the following were undertaken: Training, Participatory
Diagnostic, Experiment field tests, and certified R1 seed production.
II Results
Activity 1: Prospection and collect of local ecotypes /landraces
From this prospection and collect, 120 local ecotypes /landraces were collected. During the
prospection, basic information was collected with farmers in particular the size of the grown
areas in fonio, the number of varieties by farm, the output. Farmers also characterized the
ecotypes for the cycle, the facility of dehusking, size of the grains and on the early dehiscence.
Activity 2:Characterization of the local ecotypes
Ten varieties were chose by farmers. The main criteria is early maturity. Among then only Niatia
with 1800 kg/ha has a good potential yielding. Forth ecotypes; Diabougou/N'dorosso,
MouguГ©/Dialassagou, Siakabougou/BoГЇdiГ©, MabГЁrГЁ/Ouenkoro, with 2000 kg/ha have good potential
Activity 3: Fertilization
During growing season, vegetative development was very satisfactory.
Fertilization 1: field homogenized by corn grown without fertilizers. Average yield: 1039 kg/ha
No significant difference between fertilizer levels, no significant difference between densities.
But there is difference between the varieties; early variety yield is 1241 kg/ha and intermediate
variety yield is 837 kg/ha.
Fertilization 2: fonio after cotton No significant difference between fertilizer levels, no
significant difference between densities. But there is difference between the varieties; early
variety yield is 1627 kg/ha and intermediate variety yield is 1281 kg/ha.
Activity 4:Molecular characterization of local ecotypes
This activity was partially carried out and is in conformity with the chronogram of work
established beforehand.
Activity 5: Technological characterization
The results are not yet available. Work will continue next year starting from the samples which
will result from the characterization.
Activity 6 : Diversity field fora / farmer field school
Training of participant farmers
20 farmers from villages were trained on fonio genetic diversity, agricultural practices and seed
production techniques standards in field and laboratory. The standards concern, the origin of
seed to be multiplied, weeding, field history, varietal purity, specific purity, seed health, seed
germination, sampling of seeds and certification. Participatory approached was applied during
the training session and advised for the activities.
Participatory Diagnostic
It was carried out in two main villages Diakobougou and Siguila . The main constraints of fonio
production according farmers were irregularity of rains, soil ploughing, low soil fertility,
difficulty access to seeds of improved varieties, hand harvest using local tool, low amount of
pounding machines for dehusking and other agricultural machines; sensitivity to striga of local
varieties. Farmers enumerated their own solutions where modern varieties are relevant. Farmers
stated the following traits for a good variety of fonio: precocity, panicles with many racemes and
seeds; length of raceme; resistance to shattering; adaptability to different types of soil; easy
pounding for deshusking; white grains; good taste. The participatory diagnostic showed that the
area grown per farmer varies from 0.5 to 5 ha. N’Goina, Finidé, Finiba in Diakobougou ; Finidé,
Souroukoufini, N’goibilé, Finiba in Siguila are local varieties. In the past two years,
BancocokountrГ© and Kassambara were introduced by Cinzana Agricultural Research Station of
IER. Fonio is among the three major crops in the two villages.
Field experimental tests
Two mother tests in Siguila and Diakobougou with 12 varieties (6 local and 6 modern) in each
village were conducted and replicated twice. These tests receive all modern agricultural
practices. A farmer in each village has responsibility for the test. Bedside mother test, there were
baby tests with 37 farmers in which each farmer has one modern variety compared to his local
one. A farmer field day was organized for participatory varietal selection. Criteria for choice
were: precocity; high number of raceme and grain per plant; white grain; and panicle / raceme
length, grain size (big) and adaptation. Therefore, 5 varieties (PГ©azo of Sanikuy 14 farmers;
N’Goina 6 farmers; Pont de Mandougou 5 farmers; Bancococountré and Fini de Tongo 4 farmers
with same rank) have been selected and chosen by farmers based on traits observed during field
monitoring and farmer participatory varietal selection during the field day. All varieties are
harvested. Conditioning and determination of weight of varieties are going on. Data analysis will
be done as soon as the post harvest data collection finish.
Seed production
Certified R1 seed multiplication activities took place in several villages involving 22 farmers for
11 ha. Field inspections were realized by the extension specialist in charge of this activity. All
seed production fields have been accepted. Post harvest activities are taking place and will end
with sampling, laboratory analyses for certification.
Farmer field day visit in Diakobougou in Oumar Coulibaly mother test plot
III Annual Workplan
of ecotypes in
the fonio
areas (Y1 & 2).
SГ©gou, San,
O2/ Agromorphological
July at Cinzana
October Farako
Trial with
in relation
farmers en
July at Cinzana
Trial in
thinning at
1 plant.
of each
plant were
trial with
2 densities
and 2 rates
O3/ Molecular
Tom Ash
Characterization Moussa
(Y1 &Y2)
O/4 Evaluation
of different
fertilizer rates
on fonio (Y1
O5/Study of the
June at Sotuba
O/6 Seed
production and
evaluation of
fonio ecotypes
July at Farako
Hulling of
July at Diakobougou Farmer’s
seed plot
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