Knowledge of existing genetic variability is essential for initiating a successful breeding program. A set of 628 finger millet accessions comprising accessions from the core collection, farmer preferred and improved varieties released in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were profiled for nutrient content. Accessions showed very high variability for the different nutrient contents. Local cultivars and varieties released in the ESA region had significantly lower levels of the main essential nutrients (Ca, Fe, Zn) found in finger millet. Country of origin was highly significant for all the nutrients, with accessions from eastern and southern Africa having significantly lower nutrient contents. Grain color was associated with nutrient content with darker grains having higher compared to white colored. All nutrients were positively correlated (P<0.001) to each other. Grain yield was not significantly correlated to any nutrient content. The substantial variability for the grain nutrients observed in the finger millet core collection and local germplasm indicates the possibility for the selection of nutrient-rich accessions for use in the breeding programs.
Key words: Finger millet, micro and macro nutrients, diversity, grain color, glume cover, malnutrition.
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