In India, a global team of 65 scientists from 30 research institutions, called the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, decoded and sequenced the pearl millet genome in order to understand how this cereal survives higher temperatures and droughts better than other food crops. They found the pearl millet genome contains molecular markers related to drought and heat tolerance as well as other important traits (better nutrition profile, pest resistance). This will catalyze breeding efforts to improve this crucial staple food for millions of people in arid and semi-arid Africa and Asia in particular.
Pearl millet is a nutritious drylands cereal, rich in protein, fiber and essential micronutrients like iron, zinc and folate. The faster development of improved pearl millet varieties that can grow despite heat and drought, and still yield good harvests and income for smallholder farmers will help communities to adapt to climate change and be food and nutrition secure.