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Low-cost and pesticide-free treatment of seeds
to improve yield of sorghum and millet in Africa

Project period: 2012-2017

Sorghum and millets are among the most important crops in dry areas of Africa.  Several diseases of the two crops are transmitted through their seeds and farmers may improve the yield by treating seeds with pesticides before sowing. However, for most farmers pesticides are costly to buy and pesticides are toxic to handle without protection. For these reasons, the aim of this project was to test alternative methods of seed treatment: Low-cost and pesticide-free.

Summary of results: 


Three methods of seed treatment were tested:

  • priming of seeds in water (hydropriming)
  • treatment with a simple extract of the plant Eclipta alba
  • treatment with an extract of the desert tree Balanites aegyptiaca

Field tests were carried out in Burkina Faso, Tanzania and India.

Yields were found to increase by up to 60% depending on the method and the geographical location. Farmers can use the methods directly to improve yields. However, as a first step the treatment should be tested on a small scale for each field. Fields located near the same village typically showed a similar response to seed treatment

Details of results are provided on the following pages