Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is the fifth most important cereal in the class of the top five cereal grain in the world. This comes after wheat, maize, rice, and barley.
The Sorghum grain belongs to the genus of flowering plants which are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continent. Its origin can be traced down to Northeastern Africa where it was first cultivated 8000 years ago. It is one of Africa’s pride as It belongs to the list of indigenous fruits and crops.
This grain is drought resistant and has a number of characteristics which aids its survival in almost any environment with less water. Some of them are:
- It has an extensive root system that helps to gather and store water.
- Its leaves have a waxy coating that aids water retention.
- The development of its seeds over a longer period of time makes it less affected by short periods of rainfall.
Sorghum is a high input commercial crop, known for its usefulness to both human and livestock, the method of cultivation, nutritional value, and enormous economic importance which you would read in subsequent paragraphs.
First, let’s highlight the growth in production of this crop over the years in Nigeria.
Sorghum Production In Nigeria 2012-2018
Over the years, Nigeria has experienced a tremendous growth and boost in its economy because of the cultivation of sorghum.
In 2012, Nigeria cultivated about 5.6 million hectares and the annual production was estimated to be about 2.8million tones as reported by Agriculture Nigeria.
In 2015-2017, Nigeria rose up to 2nd place in the world as regards sorghum production. This is after the United State of America which comes first place. According to Vanguard Newspaper, using the breakdown of data obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), USA’s output was projected at 8.4m metric tonnes and Nigeria with 6.4m metric tonnes in 2017. This combined with other countries producing sorghum produced 59.34 million tonnes around the globe same year.
The latest USDA report forecasts that sorghum production will rise to 60.6 million tonnes in 2018 and there would likely be no changes to the rankings. This means Nigeria will still take 2nd place globally.
See the data chart of Nigeria sorghum production by year:
Source: Index Mundi
Other Leading Countries In Sorghum Production
Sorghum producing countries around the globe aside Nigeria and USA includes Ethiopia, Sudan, Mexico, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Australia, India, China, Argentina, e.t.c.
Cultivation Of Sorghum
Sorghum is grown in the semi-arid, savannah and grassland areas. It can survive in areas with less rainfall and seasons of drought. They thrive in areas where other crops cannot survive, which explains why it was referred to as a “miracle crop and a wonderfully diverse crop species” by C. Wayne Smith and Richard A. Frederiksen in the book Sorghum: Origin, History, Technology, and Production.
To plant sorghum, it would require a well tilled and prepared seedbed and seeds should be planted 3.0-7.0kg per hectare.
Pest and diseases such as Chillo Borer, Bollworm, Virus, Bacteria, Shoot fly, and fungi, can easily affect the crop yield if weeds are not properly managed using the right herbicides at the right time.
Economic Importance Of Sorghum
1. Consistent Demand and Supply:
Source: Index Mundi
With the report highlighted above, it is obvious that there is an already set marketplace for this cereal grain within and outside the country. Moreso, it is one of the top five cereal grain in the world, tending to both livestock and humans. This implies that even when there is a decrease in the demand of this grain by people, there might be an increase or continuous demand by farmers for their animals or for industrial purposes.
2. High Nutritional Value:
The nutritional value of this cereal grain makes it stand out amongst the other important cereal grain in the world. Sorghum is rich in protein, Iron, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Magnesium, Phosphorus amongst others. People use this cereal as a substitute for rice or wheat as it contains almost the same nutritional value as the others.
3. Foreign Exchange Earnings:
Source: Index Mundi
The report shows that between 2000-2018, there has been a very visible growth rate in the export of this cereal grain outside Nigeria. More export outside the country will result in more economic value or financial growth to the economy.
4. Health Benefits Of Sorghum
Amongst the health benefits of sorghum are:
- It is rich in Antioxidants.
- Helps to reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Contains dietary fiber needed for digestive function.
- A gluten-free substitute for wheat flour
- A good source of energy
5. Home Grown Crop
You do not have to look further or farther from your own country when thinking of an Agric business to start as sorghum is grown here in Nigeria. The report above shows the progression of the production of this grain over the years which looks very amazing and a safe ground to tread upon.
Moreso, Nigeria presently accounts for 65-70% of the total sorghum produced in West Africa. According to the map above, the leading states in sorghum production includes Bauchi, Niger, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa, Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, and Nasarawa.
6. Eco-Friendly Crop:
Sorghum grain uses less water and can be grown almost anywhere in your environment. It is an environmentally friendly crop as it thrives in lands where most crops cannot be cultivated. It can withstand drought condition and extreme heat.
7. Amazing Uses OF Sorghum
Sorghum is a “multi-faceted” crop because of its importance to human and livestock. Sorghum residues and plants can be used for both edible and non-edible products:
- Sorghum Syrup
- Sorghum popcorn
- Sorghum rice
- Sorghum bread
- Pastries (made from Sorghum). etc
- Animal feed
- Building material
- Fuel for Cooking, particularly in areas with drought or drylands,
- Production of bioenergy ( using biomass sorghum)
- Traditional corn broom
8. More Investment Opportunities:
Having ranked second place globally in the production of one of the top five cereal grain in the world, Nigeria is sure to attract more foreign investors into the nation. More companies and people would be interested in investing in the agricultural sector and other sectors too. It is a win-win for Nigeria both ways.
The economic importance of sorghum can never be underestimated as it is continuously putting Nigeria out there amongst the top agricultural countries of the world. Being second place in the world implies that there is the possibility of taking first place.
If Nigeria would increase the production of sorghum, our ranking would increase, more job opportunities would be created for both the youth and older generations, foreign export earnings would increase and more resources can be channeled into boosting the production of other crops in the country.
Thank you for reading.