Status of maize breeding at mid-altitude and sub-humid low land agro-ecology of Ethiopia


Abstract: Maize is one of the most important cereal crops in Ethiopia, ranking second in area coverage and first in total production. In the last two decades, the production and productivity of maize increased in Ethiopia. However, the national average yield (3.5 t/ha) is still low as compared to the world average (5.5 t/ha). An important portion of this low yielding in maize is attributable to abiotic and biotic stresses. To tackle the existing and emerging production constraints, continuous maize research is required using modern breeding techniques that are supported by conventional breeding and management aspects. Bako National Maize Research Center under the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research is striving to develop diverse inbred lines including non-quality protein (normal maize), quality protein and pro-vitamin-A lines. The combing ability of these inbred lines is assessed and their respective crosses are evaluated. So far, different maize hybrids were released, and some of them are under production and competitive market. The Ethiopian maize research center is still applying phenotypic selection for these traits of interest. This technique, however, has delayed the output in the process of pre-breeding programs (inbred lines development) and variety release in the country. Though, application of modern breeding techniques of maize, such as marker assisted selection, DH and other tools should be applied to speed up pre-breeding programs. These tools should be integrated with conventional breeding to develop maize varieties without penalty of other traits for end users at potential maize growing regions.

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