GENETIC DIVERSITY OF PEARL MILLET (PENNISETUM TYPHOIDES) CULTIVARS IN SEMI-ARID NORTHERN NIGERIA (Published)
Farmers in the semi-arid lands of Africa have traditionally relied on genetic landraces of sorghum, and in drier parts, pearl millet for farming. Over the last two decades, several seed-related studies have been conducted in semi-arid Africa to improve farmers’ access to quality seeds of dry land cereals and legumes. These have indicated that genetic diversity which is at stake is a major resource. However, there is an undeniable evidence of the erosion of crop genetic diversity. The aim of the study is to evaluate genetic variability of pearl millet cultivars obtained from four semi-arid villages of northern-eastern Nigeria namely Dagaceri and Kaska. It should be noted that all the 42 sampled respondents in all the study areas are males and heads of households. This is because in all the areas household heads were used. They are all males and the most active in agricultural practices they also have the final say in the activities of their household. A total of 25 pearl millet genotypes were collected based on diverse morphological data recorded on the field using Participatory Rural Appraisal. The main approach to the present study is to link the advanced biological technique (laboratory study) on genetic characteristics with social science field methodologies. The techniques used in the laboratory analysis are the Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) and Multiplexed Single Oligonucleotide Amplification. Out of the twenty-five pearl millet varieties identified, a total of twenty eight per cent are of the early maturing types. Laboratory studies revealed that genetic compositions of all inventoried pearl millet are not the same. The difference within and between the landraces was estimated using molecular marker (AFLP) and from the data it was noted that farmers’ husbandry practice resulted to the isolation of group ideotypes, making landrace names quid pro quo of genetic diversity. It was recommended that because farmers’ methods of selection play an important role in genetic management and conservation, it should be linked with the formal seed system to enhance genetic management and control genetic erosion.