South African Journal of Plant and Soil

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Sorghum production systems and constraints, and coping strategies under drought-prone agro-ecologies of Ethiopia

Beyene A Amelework, Hussein A Shimelis, Pangirayi Tongoona, Fentahun Mengistu, Mark D Laing, Dawit Getnet Ayele


Sorghum is one of the most important cereal crops worldwide after wheat, rice, maize and barley. Examining the present socio-economic conditions of sorghum-producing farmers in different agro-ecologies in Ethiopia is of importance for the design of improvement strategies. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the sorghum production system and patterns, major production constraints and related coping strategies in north-eastern Ethiopia. Twelve sorghum-growing villages in the North Welo, South Welo and Waghemra districts were surveyed. Descriptive statistics and a generalised additive model were used for data analysis. Constraints affecting the productivity of sorghum include moisture stress, insect pests, striga, farmland shortage, poor soil fertility, diseases, and low-yielding local cultivars. Among the constraints, drought at the grain-filling stage was identified as the most important production problem in the target region. The productivity of sorghum was also hindered by the use of local drought-tolerant but low-yielding landraces, because farmers had been forced to abandon high-yielding and late-maturing landrace cultivars because of the frequent occurrence of drought. To enhance sorghum productivity, farmers’ knowledge and practices, and production constraints need to be integrated from the initial stages of breeding and technology development.

Keywords: generalised additive model, moisture stress, participatory rural appraisal, production constraint, sorghum
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