Finger millet [Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.] is an important staple food crop cultivated by many smallholder farmers in drought prone areas of Africa for food, nutritional security and income generation. It serves as an important source of energy, proteins, minerals and calcium to many Ugandans. In addition, the sale of finger millet grain and value-added products like the different “busheera” beverages and local beer provide income to many households in Uganda. The crop is believed to have originated from the highlands of East African countries - Uganda and Ethiopia around 5000 years ago but its production is still low. Among the cereals grown in Uganda, finger millet ranks third after maize and sorghum and its production is on a decline with on farm average yield of less than 1 ton/hectare compared to its potential yield of 5 tons/ha. Some of the constraints to millet production include the subsistence nature employed by smallholder farmers, farmer neglect, use of low yielding varieties, poor agronomic practices, insect pests, diseases, declining soil fertility, poor post-harvest handling, and limited support by government and donor community, among others. Furthermore, the selfing nature, and the small floret size contributes to the low pace of genetic improvement of finger millet. The objective of this review paper is to present current status on production, constraints, opportunities, research gaps and implications for finger millet improvement in Uganda.
Key words: Finger millet, breeding, food security, seed systems, genetic improvement.
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