Sorghum Value Chain

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Soghurm Production


Sorghum, Sorghum bicolor, is an annual or perennial grass in the family Poaceae grown primarily for its grain. Sorghum has an erect solid stem with one or more tillers (additional shoot that grows subsequent to the parent shoot) and curving leaves which are arranged alternately on the stems and are lance-like in shape, measuring 30–135 cm (12–53 in) in length. The inflorescence of the plant consists of racemes of spikelets arranged on branches at the head of the plant. The spikelets are paired and have 2 florets. When the plant flowers, yellow anthers begin to appear on the head. Sorghum is usually grown as an annual, harvested after one growing season and can grow to a height of 4 m (13 ft). Sorghum may also be referred to as broomcorn and may have been cultivated from wild ancestors in Ethiopia.

Site Selection

Sorghum is a cereal crop that can grow in a wide variety of soils ranging from heavy clay in the Southern Guinea savannah to sandy loam in the Sudan /Sahel savannah ecologies. It does best in soils with high moisture retention capacity, well drained and fertile clay loam in nature. It is fairly tolerant to alkalinity and salinity. It can tolerate some drought situations that is why It is described as a hardy crop.


Field Preparation 

Rainfed Sorghum

Test the soil and apply fertilizers based on soil test recommendations.

i Field has to be prepared well in advance taking advantage of early showers.
FYM application should be done @ 12.5 t / ha and well incorporated at the time of ploughing.
ii. Chiseling for soils with hard pan
Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depths with chisel plough at 0.5 M interval, first in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one once in three years. Apply 12.5 t FYM or composted Coir pith/ha besides chiseling to get an additional yield of about 30% over control.
iii. To conserve the soil moisture sow the seeds in flat beds and form furrows between crop rows during inter cultivation or during third week after sowing.


Climatic and Soil Requirement


Sorghum can grow in a wide range of ecological conditions and can still yield well even under unfavourable conditions of drought stress and high temperatures. It is generally grown between 400 North and 400 South of the equator, in warm and hot countries characteristic of the semi-arid environment.

Sorghum requires warm conditions but it can be grown under a wide range of conditions.
It is also widely grown in temperate regions and at altitudes of up to 2300 m in the tropics.
It can tolerate high temperature throughout its life cycle better than any other crop.
Sorghum requires about 26-300 C temperature for good growth. The minimum temperature for the germination of the sorghum seed is 7 to 100 C.

Grain sorghum does not germinate and grow well under cool soil conditions. Poor emergence and seedling growth may result if planted before soil temperatures reach 350 C. Sorghum is best adapted to areas having an average annual rainfall between 45 to 65 cm (17 to 25 inches).  Although sorghum can respond to good moisture supplies, it is nevertheless one of the toughest, drought tolerant crops available and this tends to maintain its popularity in the regions where the weather is very unpredictable.

The ability of sorghum to grow in drier environments is due to a number of physiological and morphological characteristics;

  • Produces many roots compared to other cereals
  • Has reduced leaf area thus reducing water loss through transpiration
  • Can remain dormant during drought and resume growth when conditions are favourable
  • Above ground parts of plant grow only after the root system is well established
  • The leaves have a waxy coating and have the ability to roll in during drought thus effectively reducing transpiration
  • Competes favourably with most weeds.


Soil temperatures

Aim for 15°C and rising. At 15°C sorghum takes 11-14 days to emerge. At 17°C it takes only 7-10 days.



The various soil types viz., vertisols, entisols, inceptisols or alfisols are suitable for growing sorghum. Vertisols with better cation exchange capacity, higher nutrient status and water retention support good crop. The crop is grown successfully on soil with pH ranging from 5.5 to 8.5. It tolerates salinity and alkalinity. Under good climatic conditions, sorghum does best on deep fertile soils. It is adapted to poor soils and can grow well on soils where many other crops would fail.



Choice of varieties

There are three main ecologies with seasonal variations, these includethe Southern Guinea Savanna (SGS) with a long growing period of about seven to eight months of rainfall, the varieties to grow here should be long duration or late maturing varieties (Tabl. In the Northern Guinea Savannah, the growing season is shorter than in the Southern Guinea Savannah but longer than in Sudan/Sahel savannah. Varieties of sorghum to be grown here are medium maturing. The rainfall here last between six and seven months. In the Sudan/Sahel savannah, the growing period is short with the rainfall lasting between four and five months. Varieties of sorghum grown here are short duration or early maturing in order to escape the drought that is frequently experienced at the end of the growing season.



Nursery Preparation 
For raising seedlings to plant one hectare, select 7.5 cents (300 m2) near a water source where water will not stagnate.

Laying The Nursery 

  • Provide three separate units of size 2 m x 1.5 m with 30 cm space in between the plots and all around the unit for irrigation.
  • Excavate the soil from the inter-space and all around to a depth of 15 cm to form channels and spread the soil removed on the bed and level.


Main Field Preparation for Irrigated Crop

Plough the field with an iron plough once (or) twice. Sorghum does not require fine tilth since it adversely affects germination and yield in the case of direct sown crop.

To overcome the subsoil hard pan in Alfisols (deep red soils) chiselling the field at 0.5 m intervals to a depth of 40 cm on both the directions of the field followed by disc ploughing once and cultivator ploughing twice help to increase the yield of sorghum and the succeeding blackgram also. This was true with Sorghum followed by Groundnut also.

Application of FYM and 100% of recommended N can also be followed. In soils with sub-soil hard pan, chiselling should be done every year at the start of the cropping sequence to create a favourable physical environment.


 Formation of Ridges and Furrows 

  • Form ridges and furrows using a ridger at 6 m long and 45 cm apart
  • Form irrigation channels across the furrows

Alternatively, form beds of size 10 m2 and 20 m2 depending on the availability of water.


Sorghum requires a well tilled and prepared seed bed with a planting population of 3.0 to 7.0kg seed per hectare. Planting time usually varies from September to January, depending on the prevailing ecological conditions. NPK fertilizer are normally applied and provisions are made for irrigation and weeding.


Field/land preparation for Sweet Sorghum

For rainy season crop, with onset of rains in May-June, the field is ploughed once or twice to obtain a good tilt. Harrowing of soil should invariably follow after each ploughing to reduce the clod size. After the initial ploughing, the subsequent ploughings and harrowing are carried out when the moisture content of the clods are reduced. Field preparation depends on the system of sorghum sowing. Tropicultor is having a provision of attachment of different implements to a tool bar for field operations like ploughing, cultivator and blade harrow operation is done with changing the required implements. Similarly, operations like broad-bed formation (BBF) and ridge and furrow (R&F) land configurations with attachment of ridgers and chain

Three systems of sorghum sowing are followed

  1. a) sowing on a flat surface
  2. b) using ridge-and-furrow system
  3. c) broad bed-and-furrow system.


Broad bed and furrow (BBF) is highly suitable for Vertisols whereas, flat sowing followed by opening of furrow in every row/alternate by ridger at inter-cultivation (20 DAS) is effective for Alfisol or lateritic soils under rain-fed situations or conservation furrows along with contour sowing.

If sowing is done on a flat surface, the land should be levelled after final ploughing using bullock-drawn or tractor-drawn levellers.

Ridges and furrows (Figure 2) is effective under irrigated conditions. In ridge and furrow system, ridges are made using either tractor or animal drawn ridge ploughs at 60-75 cm spacing.



Row spacing and plant population Sorghum is typically planted in 75 or 100 cm rows. However, no research on row spacing has been conducted in North-West Cambodia to confirm this. Wider row spacing and lower plant populations will reduce the risk of crop failure for post-monsoon season planting. The target plant population depends on the depth of soil moisture at planting and the expected growing conditions. Target populations should range between 30,000 and 60,000 plants/ha depending on rainfall and available soil water. The target population for postmonsoon season sowing should be around 30,000 plants/ha. When calculating planting rates, allow for an extra 20–25% for establishment losses when planting into a very good seedbed on heavy black soil using press wheels and 40–50% losses when seedbed conditions are fair or when press wheels are not used. Obtain the number of seeds per kilogram and the germination percentage from the bag. To determine the planting rate (kg seed/ha): Required number of plants/m2 × 10,000 Seeds/kg × germination % × establishment % Example calculation: 74 (target plant population/m2 ) × 10,000 =1.98 kg seed/ha 30,000 (seeds/kg) × 0.90 (germination %) × 0.75 (establishment %) 12 Crop establishment Apart from moisture stress, the major factors that usually significantly reduce yields are poor crop establishment, poor nutrition and weed competition. The following recommendations should help to improve crop establishment and yields. Uniform establishment and accurate depth placement of seed is essential. Precision planters achieve both of these. Planters should have tynes or discs mounted on parallelogram planter units so they independently adjust to uneven soil surfaces. Planter seed plates should be matched to seed size to ensure there are no misses or doubles/ triples on the plates. Narrow points or discs are better suited to no-till and minimum-till conditions, and work very well in free-flowing soils but excessive planting speeds will reduce establishment. The seed should be placed about 3–5 cm deep. Press wheels are essential, not only to improve establishment, but also to help control soil insect pests which attack germinating and emerging sorghum. Crop establishment is improved when the shape of the press wheel matches the shape of the seed trench


Fertilizer Application

Application of 10 tons/ha FYM at the last ploughing, Nitrogen is mostly lacking for optimum Sorghum production. Nitrogen recommendations will vary with expected yield, soi l tex ture and cropping sequence. Approximately 80 kg of N (175 Kg Indorama Granular Urea) and 40 kg P O /hectare is 2 5 recommended. One half i.e 40 kg N and full P2O5 is to be applied at sowing, while remaining 40 kg N is to be applied 30-40 days after sowing. In case of light soils with low rainfall, 60kg N and 30kg P O is recommended. 2 5 Best Fertilizer Management Practices: Soil pH should be 5.7 or higher, A starter Fertilizer is an option, but is a must if planting no-till. Apply P and K according to soil test recommendations., For heavy clay soils, increase N by 20 to 30%, Splitting N is advisable; apply 1/3 at planting


Pest and Disease Management

Insect pest of sorghum and its management:

Sorghum Shoot fly: Atherigona soccata


Damage occurs 1-4 weeks after seedling emergence. The damaged plants produce side tillers, which may also be attacked. The shoot fly’s entire life cycle is completed in 17-21 days. In India, shoot fly populations begin to increase in July, peak in August-September, and then decline. Infestations are especially high when sorghum planting is staggered due to erratic rainfall. Infestation is normally high in the post rainy-season crop, which is sown in September-October. Temperatures above 35oC and below 18oC reduce shoot fly survival.




Shoot fly infestation can be avoided by early sowing to avoid the active period of shoot fly population. If the sowings are completed within 7-10 days of the onset of the monsoon rains, the crop can escape from shoot fly infestation. In the rabi season, sowing between September end to October first week relatively reduces the shoot fly infestation. If early sowing could not be carried out, then use high seed rate. While thinning the crop, remove the seedlings with dead hearts and keep the optimum plant stand in the field.

  • Early sowing – Low incidence.
  • Late sowing –  High incidence
  • Remove dead hearts
  • High seed rate 8 – 12 kg/ha
  • Seed treatment 60 % carbofuran 50% SP (100 gm/kg)
  • Application of carbofuran 3 G, Phorate 10 G
  • Disulfoton 5G @ 2g/m.row
  • Spraying Carbaryl 0.2%,Dimethoate 0.03%
  • Tall variety with yellow glossy stem less attacked.
  • Use resistant variety IS-2205,IS- 3962,I-5469,IS-1054,s-386,SPV-102


Stem borer:  Chilo partyellus Swinehoe


Subsequently, the larvae bore into the stem resulting in extensive tunnelling. The larvae also attack ear heads. Tunnelling of ear heads results either in its breakage, or complete or partial chaffy ear heads affecting grain development.



The stem borer survives during the off-season through the stubbles left in the field after harvest as well as in the stems kept for use as fodder. So, uprooting and burning of the stubbles and chopping of stems prevent its carry over to the next season. Select and grow varieties resistant to spotted stem borer. P-37, IS- 1054, BP-53,IS-2205,SPV-102.

  • Spray Endosulfan 0.07 %, Carbryl 0.2 % after 1,1.5 and 2 months after sowing.


  • Whorl application of endosulfan 4G or Carbofuran 3G after 20,30,40 DAG @ 8 – 12 Kg/ha.
  • Larval parasite Apentelis flavipes and egg parasite Trichogramma is effective.


Aphids: Rhopalosiphum maidis Fitch


Females give birth to living young without mating and a generation can be completed in about a week. The insect is active throughout the winter. These aphids generally infest the whorl of sorghum plants. Their densities often decline as plants enter the boot and heading stage. Panicles may become heavily infested with corn leaf aphids while the grain is immature. Aphids also secrete a sugary solution called honeydew. A black fungus called sooty mold can grow on the honeydew. The fungus does not directly harm the plant but blocks sunlight from contaminated leaves and can discolor developing seeds. Large infestations can stunt and kill leaves and whole plants.






Dimethoate 0.03%, neem seed kernal suspension 0.04%+soap.

Usually natural enemies such as lady beetles, Chrysopa, hover fly larvae, parasitic wasps and others will control aphid infestations.


Grain/Earhead MidgeContarinia sorghicola Coq.


The sorghum midge is one of the most damaging insects to sorghum. The adult is a tiny, fragile looking, reddish orange fly about 1 /16-inch long. Larvae are colourless at first, but dark orange when fully grown. Larvae developing inside sorghum flowers prevent seed formation, often resulting low grain yields.




  • Larval parasite Tetrastichus  is Effective.
  • Predator Anthocord bug,Orius,Ant(Tepinoma indicum)
  • Carbaryl 10% dust @20 – 30 kg/ha at 50% flowering & grain formation.
  • Malathion 0.05% or Phosalone 0.07% or Endosulphan 0.07%.
  • Late sowing has less incidence.


Web Worm: Cryptoblabes gnidiella Mill


Larva remains near the axis of inflorescence initially scrapping the leaf later on feeds on milky and hard grain. The larva web together adjacent grain with the help of silken threads. The whole ear head is completely webbed with excreta & silken threads




  • Carbaryl 10% ,endosulfan 4% or Malathion 5% dust @ 20 – 25 kg/ha


Semi looper: Eublemma silicula Swinhoe


Eublemma Larvae fed on maturing grains and concealed themselves under a small dome-shaped or elongated gallery made of anthers and silk. The quality of damaged grains deteriorated when exposed to rain. Populations of larvae of varied from 2 to 6 per earhead. A varietal influence was observed on the incidence. Late August to early September was the most active period for the pest.


  • Collection and destruction of egg masses and hand picking of larvae.
  • Summer ploughing and poison baiting.
  • Erection of light traps soon after the monsoon for 20-45 days and collecting and killing of adult moths are found very effective.
  • Poision baite preparations 10 kg rice bran + 1 kg jaggery +1 liter quinolphos.
  • Prepare small balls broad-cost in the fields preferably in the evening times.


Harvesting and Post-harvset Handling

Harvest conditions

Grain sorghum is physiologically mature when moisture content drops to about 30%. At moistures higher than 25%, however, the seeds are too soft to withstand adequate threshing action, leading to either un-threshed heads or cracked seeds.

Sorghum dries rapidly in the Great Plains, often down to the 12% moisture level needed for safe storage. But, because of the danger of shatter loss and lodging from wind and rainstorms when moisture is under 20%, many western operators prefer to harvest early (20-25%) and dry artificially.

Early harvesting is also advisable in Indiana, but for a different reason. Our more humid conditions delay field drying and encourage mold development, even though shattering and lodging would be less likely than in the west.


Combine Heads and Gathering Units

Grain sorghum, if it is standing, can be combined with a regular grain header. It should be cut as high as possible without skipping too many heads. Cutter bar guard extensions are helpful if heads droop.

As with soybeans, reel bat speed should be only about 25% faster than ground speed to avoid shatter losses. The reel should be set high enough to avoid catching under the heads and throwing them over. Wider reel bats may be needed to prevent this.

Gathering losses in a standing crop are usually less at 2.5 to 3 mph, but this speed may overload the rack and shoe. In such a case, it is best to maintain this optimum speed but take a partial swath to prevent overloading.

If lodging is a problem, consider a row-crop attachment to help pick-up and intake of the crop. These fit in front of the grain header cutter bar and have gathering points, gathering chains and kicker wheels, somewhat like a forage harvester head. Vertical finger cylinders and spiral gathering cones are also used in row-crop attachments. Also, lodging is less severe at row spacing of 30 inches or less than at 38 to 40 inches, because adjacent plants are more likely to support the heads of broken stalks and keep them from settling to the ground.


Threshing — Cylinder and Concave Adjustments

Threshing action should be only enough to detach the seed from the heads. Cylinder speed is lower than for wheat, and some of the concave bars can sometimes be removed. Concave clearance should be about 1/2 inch in front and 1/8-3/16 inch at the rear in most cases. Follow your combine’s instruction manual. Worn cylinder or concave bars allowing excessive clearance at the centre of the cylinder should be replaced.

Sorghum stems often catch and choke the straw walkers, causing inconvenience and lost time in cleaning. Straw walker covers, which contain smaller holes to stop the stems but still pass the grain, are available for most combines.

Grain sorghum stalks are smaller and much wetter at harvest than corn stalks and are more likely to be chopped up and delivered into the grain tank. Pieces of stalk returned to the cylinder in the tailings will be chopped even finer. Therefore, keep the chaffer extension closed enough to prevent this, even at the expense of losing some grain. in fact, you may want to cover the chaffer extension with sheet metal to keep stalks out of the return.

Inspect the sieves often during the harvest operation to detect matting, since this will lead to excessive grain loss. The upper sieve should be set 1/2-2/3 open and the lower sieve 1/3-1/2 open. They should have just enough air to keep the layer 1alive and floating and not be overloaded by too high a ground speed.



Measuring Field Losses

Combining field losses of grain sorghum can be checked by the following. procedure. (This procedure is similar to that for soybeans described in “A Guide for Measuring Soybean Losses,” by D. M. Byg, Ohio State Extension Agricultural Engineer. To obtain a copy, contact your local county Extension Office.)

  • Determine total lossby counting kernels in a 10 square foot area over the width of cut behind the machine. Approximately 17 kernels per square foot represents a loss of 1 bushel per acre.
  • Determine pre-harvest lossby counting kernels on a 10 square foot area before the combine enters it.
  • Determine gathering unit lossby backing the machine several feet and counting the kernels on a 10 square foot area across the width of cut in the stubble ahead of the cutter bar and subtracting the pre-harvest loss.
  • Determine threshing and separation lossby subtracting pre-harvest and gathering unit losses from the total loss. (This procedure is similar to that for soybeans described in

If gathering unit losses exceed 8%, or threshing and separation losses exceed 2%, changes in adjustments and/or operating techniques should be made in an effort to reduce losses.



Removing Trash

Trash is a more severe problem in drying sorghum than in drying corn because the’ plant does not die until frost-killed. If sorghum is harvested before frost, there may be many pieces of green stems and leaves to contend with. In the dryer, this trash tends to float and collect in corners, thus causing a potential fire hazard and modifying air flow. Small pieces usually present more resistance to air flow and larger pieces, less resistance.

Cleaning sorghum may be desirable both before and after drying. Removing trash before the drying process will decrease the load on the dryer and allow for more uniform drying. However, “wet side” cleaning is difficult because the grain tends to be wet and sticky from the stem juices released during combining.

Cleaning sorghum is primarily a scalping operation to sieve out the large particles and trash rather than shifting out the fines from the seeds. If you use rotary screens, remember that the grain falls through the screen and the trash is retained. Since most cleaners are designed to retain the grain and drop the fines, you may need to re-orient the take-away conveyors to handle the large volume that falls through the screen.


Drying and Cooling Rates

An individual sorghum seed exposed to air flow will dry faster than a kernel of corn because it is smaller and the interior moisture can get out faster. But the greater flow resistance of a layer of sorghum in a bin reduces the quantity of air flow for a given static pressure. As a result, both the drying and cooling rates will be 2/3 to 3/4 that of corn for the same moisture content and drying equipment.


Fire Risk

Reports indicate that incidence of fire is greater when drying sorghum than when drying corn. One reason is that there is usually more trash with sorghum grain that can accumulate in pockets which stay in the dryer or block grain flow. Since this trash dries faster than the grain and may remain through several drying cycles, it can easily reach “tinder condition. Another reason for dryer fires is that an inexperienced operator, in order to compensate for sorghum’s slower drying rate, may increase the heat to hasten the drying process.

To minimize fire risk from igniting trash, the dryer, especially flow-through types such as batch or continuous flow units, should be inspected (at least once a day) to make sure all pockets of material are unloading. Continuous flow dryers may have to be emptied daily to permit inspection.

DO NOT leave fully automatic dryers running unattended for long periods of time. In fact, closely supervise all drying processes, especially if this is your first experience with sorghum drying.

Fuzz and fibrous dust tends to accumulate around and on motors, controls and equipment. This material collects moisture and can short-circuit motors and controls, or it may be ignited from normal arcing of the electric current when contacts open and close. Therefore, clean daily (preferably with compressed air) any dust accumulation on

(a) end bell housings on open electric motors

(b) switch and control boxes, and

(c) air intake screens on motors, radiators, filters and fans.

Many dryer fires apparently result from trash which is sucked into the intake, through the flame, then deposited, still glowing, in the plenum chamber and possibly in the grain mass. To prevent this, try to keep the ground clean around the air intake.

The intake may also be shielded to reduce ground pick-up. But remember

  • do not restrict air flow by too fine a screen (1/4-inch mesh is adequate), by reduced intake area or by sharp corners;
  • arrange the screen so that leaves and trash will drop away without blocking the air intake;
  • be careful that overhead intakes do not pull in trash carried by wind gusts.

Recognize that trash can sift through and blow under false floors in bin dryers, making fire-hazard as great as with flow-through dryers. The low-air intake position of bin dryers presents an added trash pick-up hazard.


Drying Procedures

Any drying method used for shelled corn should also work for sorghum, subject to the limitations of lower air flow and, hence, capacity. Bin drying should be similar to corn if drying depths and layers are reduced 25 to 40%.

Corn and sorghum can be layered or mixed if the grain is to be used for livestock feed. Either can be placed on the bottom, but the overall-depth or layer thickness should be reduced to compensate for the added flow resistance of the sorghum portion of the total.

Drying air temperatures are essentially the same for sorghum as for corn, i.e.

  • 110°F maximum for grain to be used for seed.
  • 120°-140°F for non-stirred batch-in-bin feed-grain installations using air flows of 10-25 cfm/bu for 2-1/2 to 4-foot depths.
  • 160°-200°F for feed grain in batch or continuous flow installations using air flows of 100-200 cfm/bu.
  • Add 10°-20°F to outside air for deep layer drying with supplemental heat with timer or humidistat heat input control.

Procedures used for dry aeration, grain stirring and blending can be the same as for corn if allowance is made for the increased air flow resistance of sorghum.


Wet sorghum cannot be held as long as corn before spoiling and sprouting, although farmer experience in Indiana indicates that holding overnight is not as-dangerous-as we previously thought. The sorghum mass packs tighter, inhibiting air circulation, and thus the seeds are apparently quicker to germinate.

Present recommendations regarding holding wet sorghum are as follows:

  • Be very cautious about holding for more than one day ahead of the dryer, especially in your first year of experience Also, be sure that allwet grain has been removed from the holding bin before refilling.
  • Recognize that-conditions of 23-25% moisture and 80°-90°F grain;temperatures are ideal for heating, mold and sprouting. Safety margins are very narrow.
  • Consider adding aeration of 1/2 cfm/bu to the wet holding tank. If nighttime temperatures drop 10°-20°F below daytime averages, aeration will be very beneficial. If they do not drop, however, very little cooling results other than that due to evaporation of grain moisture into the flowing air.



Wet sorghum can be ensiled like wet shelled corn. It is important, however, to get the grain under cover and sealed quickly than to compact it. Grinding or rolling prior to storage is popular (although not essential) because it aids air exclusion and is desirable prior to feeding.

Dry sorghum stores essentially the same as shelled corn. As mentioned above, it should be cleaned before storing. In addition, it should be mechanically spread or filled to distribute the fines and trash or the center withdrawn after filling to remove any concentration of fines.

A properly designed aeration system is essential for safe storage. Here are major considerations in the operation of such a system:

  • Use 1/10 cfm/bu air flow.
  • Cooling is the first consideration with humidity and moisture control secondary. Run the fan, regardless of weather conditions, whenever the grain is heating or over 22% moisture content.
  • When the grain is below 22% moisture and not heating, run the fan whenever the outside air is 10°F cooler than the grain mass until the grain is cooled down to 40°-50°F.
  • The increased air flow resistance of grain sorghum reduces aeration flow rates compared to corn. This may not be as critical as in drying, however, because of the low air flow rates and the greater latitude in aeration.



Sorghum Processing Technology

Processing of sorghum entails applying suitable grain, milling and malting procedures, which will not only maintain nutritional value, but also lead to minimal grain losses with improved marketability of the end products. The process goes through primary processing which involves cleaning, dehulling, pounding and milling. Then comes the secondary processing, which involves turning material into food, i.e. cooking, blending, fermentation and roasting. Both traditional and industrial processing methods are employed which may involve the partial or complete separation and/or modification of the three major constituents of the cereal grain, i.e. the germ, the starch containing endosperm and the protective pericarp (or testa).

Industrial methods of processing sorghum though not well developed as that of other cereals have had significant impact on the food security of the country. Industrial processing is in most cases, geared towards production of grit, malt, meal/flour and sometimes germ, with bran and germ-cake as by-product for feeding animals. Two main methods usually employed in sorghum processing are dry-milling and wet-milling.



In traditional systems, grain cleaning is achieved by winnowing, while washing in water will remove most dust and stones. In mechanised systems, forced air (aspiration) is used to remove lighter materials, while most stones, dust and other material are removed as the grain passes over a series of screens. Ferrous metal is removed by a permanent magnet placed in the flow path of the grain.







Small Scale Dry milling of Sorghum

The production of virtually all sorghum foods first comprise of two major operations:

  • Debranning (dehulling)- removal of the unpalatable, sometimes tannin rich and highly pigmented bran and the rancidity causing fat rich germ;
  • Size reduction (grinding)-converting the endosperm into meal or flour.

Traditionally in Africa, sorghum milling has been done using a pestle and mortar for dehulling and saddle quern for grinding or size reducing the grain, methods still used in many African communities.

Today, mechanised milling is becoming the norm, creating a milling industry and the opport-

unity for manufacture of more versatile sorghum food products to meet growing world food demands. Probably the most common method of mechanised sorghum milling in Africa is by abrasive debranning (also known as decortication or dehulling), followed by hammer milling of the endosperm material


Large scale Milling

The sequence of operations in sorghum dry milling is as follows:

  • Cleaning: the sorghum is weighted and conveyed to a separator consisting of two sets of sieves equipped with an air aspirator. Stones, sticks and other coarse and fine materials are removed.
  • Conditioning: The sorghum grain is passed into bins and at the same time conditioned by the addition of water (cold or hot) or steam so that the moisture content is raised to 19-22%, at which condition it is best suited for milling. The conditioned grain rests for about 24 hours before milling.
  • Degerming and miling: When optimum conditioning has been achieved, the sorghum is passed through a worm conveyor from where it is dropped into a degerming machine consisting of a conical rotor revolving inside a conical stator. Both parts are fitted with studs which break up the grain. The grains then passed through successive fluted-rollers with decreasing fineness where they are reduced to grits, coarse, middling, flour and bran.
  • Separation of the milling components (sifting): The milled grain is then passed through a rotary drier to reduce its moisture content to about 15%. It is then passed through a cooling worm into two rotating cylindrical sieves which removes the sorghum meal from the grits, germ and bran.
  • Packaging: The milled products are packaged in bags of 10, 25 and 50 kg weights for distribution to market outlets. In most cases however, the grits are bulk transported to secondary production plants for use in infant foods and confectioneries.




Like other cereals, sorghum is wet-milled to obtain starch, oil, animal feeds (gluten feed, gluten meal, germ cake) and the hydrolysis products of starch (i.e. liquid and solid glucosesyrup). Dark-coloured sorghum varieties are not suitable for wet milling as the colours leaches out in to the steep unless a means for removing the colours is employed. The process which can also be carried at cottage level yield products like starch, germ, fibre and sorghum gluten. The steps involved in sorghum wet-milling are basically the same at both the small and large scale levels

  • Steeping: The sorghum is cleaned and steeped for about 24 – 72 hours at room temperature [or 24 – 48 hours in warm water (about 500 C)] containing sulphur dioxide (0.03%).
  • De-germing: The steep water is drained off and the soaked grain is run through attrition mills to break it and free the germs. The slurry of ground sorghum is allowed to stand: the germ floats and is skimmed off for use in oil extraction and animal feeds.
  • Milling: The de-germed slurry after straining is finely ground using attrition mill, and the hulls and fibre which are not finely ground are separated from the protein and starch using fine mesh screens.
  • Separation of starch from protein: By subjecting the slurry in a high speed centrifuge, the starch which is heavier is separated at the outer region of the centrifuge while the lighter protein fractions migrate to the centre. The fractions of starch and protein are then dried to safe moisture levels.
  • Oil extraction (at large scale only): Oil can also be extracted from the germ by either hydraulic press, screw press or solvent extraction using normal hexane. Main products obtained from sorghum wet-milling are starch, gluten (protein) and Germ (for oil)



Sorghum is found in all Nigerian markets. It is widely consumed by most households, especially in the north, and it is used by breweries for producing beverages. Sorghum is important for households in the north, particularly the border markets where it is heavily traded with Niger. Below are the various market outlets which farmers can explore.

Buying and Selling of Sorghum

The marketing of sorghum starts with the farmers. They sell through the rural assemblers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers as well as local processor. These assemblers, who often handle relatively smaller volumes, may include some local farmers who have accumulated a little capital. The assemblers visit farmers often at harvest time and buy sorghum often in cash although they may get it on credit whenever adequate trust has been built between the buyer and the seller.

The points of sale are usually farm, home, village, and village and rural markets. The unit of measurement is not standard, as the grain is sold in bags, mudu or tiya. Prices are negotiable between the buyers and the sellers. Produce is transported to wholesalers in the urban centres using bicycle, lorry, pick-up van, trucks or buses depending on the quantity and accessibility of the road.

Quality criteria for Sorghum

  • Traders and stockists want dry, clean grain, neither infested nor damaged.
  • Millers want clean grain in homogeneous batches, not too hard for grinding and giving a high yield of milling products.
  • Processors want hulled or broken products of homogeneous size, free of sand or other impurities and without parasitic odours or infestation.
  • Consumers are sensitive to the colour, the texture, the aroma and the taste of the product after final cooking.

These quality criteria, reflected in the price, are always present even if the current quality standards are not always respected.


General standard for export

  • The standard applies to sorghum for direct human consumption.
  • Grains shall not have abnormal odour or taste.
  • Grains may be white, pink, red, brown orange or yellow or may be a mixture of
  • Grains must be sound, clean and free from living insects.
  • Moisture content should not exceed 14.5 percent; ash not more than 1.5 percent on dry matter; protein not less than 7 percent on dry matter basis.
  • Tannins: For whole grains – not to exceed 0.5 percent on dry matter. For polished grains – not to exceed 0.3 percent on dry matter basis.


Threshed sorghum is packaged in sacks of 100, 200, 300, 500 and 750 weights for distribution to market outlets, warehouse, and stores. The sacks are often re-used and in case of re-using, care should be taken to prevent re-infestation of clean grain by boiling sacks in water and thorough drying.



The goal of good storage is to be able to deliver grain from store in good quality and with no loss in quantity. This is achieved by preventing the deterioration caused by: Adverse climatic conditions (temperature, relative humidity, etc.), Contamination by extraneous material; Grain germination; and Pest infestation. Traditionally, un-threshed heads are store in a solid walled container called a rumbu, bins, silos, warehouse etc. For short-term storage, bundles of sorghum heads are arranged in layer in the rumbu. For long-term storage of three to six years, the heads are laid out individually rather than in bundles. While threshed grains are stored in bags in small quantities for immediate consumptions or for seed are store in clay pots, tins, or calabash. In large farms and markets grains are stored in warehouse or in large silos. Ensuring that the storage environment is clean and tidy and in a good state of repair, makes a major contribution to the quality control during storage, but it is insufficient to prevent losses by pests.



In rural area donkeys, pick-up vans and trucks are mainly used to transport sorghum from the point of production to home or rural markets, urban area and mill plant.  In general, Nigerian agricultural value chains suffer greatly from high transportation costs. limited rail service, poor road conditions, ‘’go slsow’’ bottlenecks, and rampant checkpoints contribute in the reducing the competitiveness of agricultural goods produced in Nigeria. This is particularly true of product that are transported over long distances, such as sorghum.

Means of transportation of sorghum.



Sorghum wholesalers can be defined as traders who buy and sell in large volume. They operate at several levels of the value chain; at the rural assembling level; regional level (long distance assembler/wholesaler) and at consumer level.


International Trade

World trade in sorghum is strongly linked to demand for livestock products, dominated by feed requirements and prices in Group II countries. Only 6 percent of world sorghum trade (about 500,000 tons per year) is for use as food. This is mainly imported by countries in Africa. Since trade is primarily for animal feed, volumes are very sensitive to sorghum/maize price differentials and can fluctuate considerably.

The world market for sorghum currently represents slightly more than 3 percent of global cereals trade. Although most sorghum continues to be consumed in the countries where it is produced, export volumes have risen from 3 million tons in the early 1960s to over 12 million tons (about 20 percent of total output) by the early 1980s (Tables 6 and 7). Most of the expansion took place in the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, when world trade in sorghum tripled within a period of roughly 15 years, in line with the rise in imports of other coarse grains. Another sharp expansion occurred in the early 1980s, when the former USSR, as a result of the United States’ export embargo, started to purchase large quantities of sorghum on the international market. These purchases also narrowed the sorghum/maize export price differential compared with the 1950s and 1960s.

World trade peaked at over 13 million tons in 1985, then fell sharply and remained at around 10 million tons until the early 1990s. It dropped further to about 8 million tons in 1994. This decline was due to a number of factors, including:

  • a sharp cutback of production in the United States;
  • the narrowed export price gap between maize and sorghum during the 1990s (Fig. 7), which made sorghum less competitive as a feed ingredient;
  • the lifting of earlier restrictions or bans on maize imports applied by a number of countries, including Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela.


World sorghum imports

(‘000 tons)
(‘000 tons)
(‘000 tons)
(‘000 tons)
Developing countries 3801.6 4351.8 4901.8 4754.3
Africa 152.4 482.5 305.2 423.7
Northern Africa 0.1 148.3 202.3 196.6
Sudan 0.02 140.1 92.3 191.8
Others 0.1 8.2 110.0 4.9
Western Africa 115.8 198.6 87.1 51.6
Burkina Faso 15.2 13.7 15.8 6.4
Mali 16.7 2.0 13.2 9.2
Niger 18.6 49.7 17.6 19.4
Senegal 23.3 60.0 20.2 9.0
Others 42.0 73.2 20.3 7.6
Central Africa 2.9 17.0 3.9 6.1
Eastern Africa 12.0 57.6 11.8 147.9
Ethiopia 4.1 29.0 6.8 62.0
Kenya 0.1 0.0 1.0 16.8
Somalia 3.7 12.5 3.8 19.0
Zimbabwe 0.0 3.2 0.0 17.1
Others 4.2 12.9 0.2 33.0
Southern Africa 21.6 61.0 0.1 21.5
Botswana 13.9 60.0 0.1 21.5
Others 7.6 1.0 0.0 0.0
Asia 847.7 1158.2 654.0 238.9
China 591.0 657.2 82.4 104.0
Korea, Republic of 72.5 302.9 238.2 82.5
Turkey 0.0 0.0 55.4 0.0
Others 184.3 198.1 278.0 49.4
Latin America 2793.6 2703.9 3330.2 4084.5
Caribbean 4.0 0.0 65.4 3.6
Central America 2111.1 1930.5 2914.0 3990.4
Mexico 2106.9 1922.7 2912.1 3982.2
Others 4.3 7.8 1.9 8.2
South America 678.4 773.5 350.8 90.4
Chile 13.7 6.4 2.2 33.3
Colombia 64.7 68.0 0.7 21.5
Ecuador 0.0 10.3 28.0 10.4
Venezuela 588.6 684.5 315.8 4.5
Others 11.4 4.3 4.1 20.8
Oceania 7.9 7.1 12.4 7.3
Developed countries 7892.8 6942.3 5234.5 3796.7
Israel 452.8 500.1 302.3 146.3
Japan 4291.3 4749.0 3843.9 2980.3
South Africa 2.0 9.4 0.4 85.4
EC3 1014.2 520.8 617.6 552.9
CIS4 1820.2 1160.3 387.7 2.4
Others 312.2 2.6 82.6 29.4
World 11694.4 11294.0 9536.3 8551.1
  • Each figure is a 3-year average for the respective period, e.g., 1979-81.
  • Shown as zero for imports less than 50 tons.
  • Including intra-trade among member countries.
  • Until 1991, area of the former USSR.

Source: FAO




World Sorghum Exports

(‘000 tons)
(‘000 tons)
(‘000 tons)
(‘000 tons)
Main exporters 11328.9 10856.7 8764.3 7993.5
Argentina 3461.3 3144.7 926.5 842.1
Australia 519.8 1200.0 261.2 188.8
China 3.7 439.9 515.8 357.9
United States 7344.0 6072.1 7060.8 6604.7
Others 1011.4 591.6 478.4 739.4
Africa 477.9 67.8 164.1 339.2
South Africa 208.5 33.7 11.0 1.4
Sudan 246.2 18.5 136.0 278.7
Others 23.2 15.6 17.1 59.1
Asia 222.2 312.3 57.1 81.9
Thailand 189.4 267.8 55.4 9.2
Others 32.8 44.5 1.8 72.7
Latin America and the Caribbean 54.1 45.5 17.2 38.5
Europe 266.3 165.9 239.9 279.7
EC2 251.2 159.5 230.0 272.3
Hungary 7.1 6.4 9.6 7.4
Developing countries 4001.6 3976.4 1669.6 1658.1
Developed countries 8338.7 7471.8 7573.1 7074.9
World 12340.2 11448.3 9242.7 8732.9


  • Each figure is a 3-year average for the respective period, e.g., 1979-81.
  • Including intra-trade among member countries.

Source: FAO


One important trend is that sorghum imports by developed countries have fallen sharply, while those by developing countries have increased considerably in response to growth in livestock production. As a result, the share of developing countries in world sorghum imports has increased substantially, from 3-4 percent in the early 1960s to about 55 percent currently.

The major exporters are Argentina, Australia, China and the United States, which together ship more than 90 percent of the global export volume (Table 7). The United States alone supplies about three-quarters of all exports. Sorghum production and exports from Argentina expanded sharply between the early 1960s and early 1980s. During this period the harvested area rose from 0.8 million to 1.9 million hectares. However, exports fell markedly following a drop in demand during the second half of the 1980s. Australia entered the export market at the beginning of the 1970s, when it started to replace some of its wheat area with sorghum. China became an important exporter by the mid-1980s, but its share in the world market declined recently following a sharp rise in domestic demand for sorghum as animal feed.

The contributions of all the remaining suppliers to world exports are limited. Thailand emerged as a small but regular exporter by the mid-1960s, but rising demand from the domestic livestock industry has reduced exports since the late 1980s. Sudan is a traditional supplier with great potential, but is affected by large year-to-year fluctuations in export availability because of periodic drought.

In the Sahel, good harvests in recent years combined with relatively inelastic domestic demand have led to the emergence of exportable surpluses in a number of countries including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. However, strong competition on international grain markets and high assembly and transportation costs make it difficult for these countries to export.

Developing countries in general, apart from the already established traditional feed grain exporters such as Argentina and China, face a number of problems in exporting sorghum. The volume they have for sale is usually small and not available regularly, and the quality is variable. Moreover, a combination of low yields, high costs of inputs and inland transport and, in some instances, overvalued currencies makes their exports uncompetitive in the highly competitive international market.

The volume of trade between developing countries is limited and often restricted to cross-border and/or triangular food aid transactions. However, official statistics underestimate trade volumes in some regions. Intra-regional trade in Western Africa, for example, is believed to be considerably larger than officially recorded. A substantial portion of the trade between the Sahelian countries, and between some of them and their coastal neighbours, is unrecorded. Similarly, much of the trade between Sudan and its neighbours is unrecorded. This substantial, unofficial trade is caused chiefly by differences in policies (e.g., support prices, foreign exchange rates and government restrictions on trade) between the trading partners.


Production Constraints

The majority of smallholder farmers, especially in the semi-arid tropical regions of Africa, do not produce enough sorghum to meet family requirements in most years. They see sorghum (and crop production in general) as a semi-subsistence enterprise that offers smaller returns than other investments such as livestock or school fees. As a result, they tend not to invest in fertilizers or seed of improved varieties.

Rising labour costs have also affected most farm operations, from land preparation, weeding and bird scaring to harvesting and grain processing. Another factor, important throughout Asia and in urban areas in Africa, is changing food preferences. As incomes rise, consumers tend to purchase wheat, rice and in some cases maize, rather than traditional coarse grains.

In some areas production is constrained by birds, which attack the crop particularly during the grain-filling stage. To minimize bird damage, sorghum with a purple undercoat is cultivated in some countries. The undercoat contains tannins, bitter, stringent substances (polyphenols) that are distasteful to birds. However, most varieties grown in Africa and Asia do not contain tannin and are, therefore, susceptible to bird damage.

Another major constraint to sorghum production is Striga, a parasitic weed that attaches itself to the sorghum roots from where it draws its moisture and nutrient requirements, inhibiting plant growth, reducing yields and in severe cases, causing plant death. Some Striga-resistant sorghum varieties have been developed, but these generally offer lower yields than traditional cultivars and improved (but Striga-susceptible) varieties.

Grain moulds cause significant losses in both grain yield and quality, particularly in areas where improved cultivars have been adopted2. Other important diseases include anthracnose, charcoal rot, downy mildew, ergot and leaf blight. Insect pests constrain production in many areas. Stem borers are endemic in all areas; head bugs and midge are most important in Western Africa; and shoot fly causes substantial losses in late and off-season sowings in both Asia and Africa.

Most improved varieties mature earlier than local varieties, often before the end of the rainy season. This results in increased susceptibility to grain moulds, greatly limiting the adoption of these varieties.

Another major problem is that variable rainfall leads to large fluctuations in production. Prices fall abruptly in good years, leaving traders reluctant to enter the market, especially since stockholding infrastructure is usually inadequate. This increases the price risk that sorghum producers face, and their unwillingness to invest in commercial sorghum production.

Inadequate government policy support also limits the expansion of sorghum output in many Group I countries. For example, in Africa, as government production support measures for sorghum are relatively small compared to maize, the latter encroached onto sorghum land. In Asia, particularly in India, irrigation and fertilizer subsidies have increasingly favoured rice, wheat and cash crops at the expense of coarse grains, while procurement policies for rice and wheat have helped to increase to a large extent the area under these crops. In a number of developing countries that had long-standing price support policies for sorghum, this support has been drastically reduced or eliminated, mainly as a result of market deregulation. trends




Worldwide, total utilization of sorghum fell slightly from 65.4 million tons in 1979-81 to 63.5 million tons in 1992-94 (Table 3). In the early 1980s an estimated 39 percent of global production was used as food and 54 percent for feed. The proportion of food utilization has gradually increased as a result of a greater food use in Africa and the substitution of sorghum by other grains (mainly maize) as feed elsewhere. By 1992-94, 42 percent of total utilization was for food and 48 percent for animal feed.


Food use

Worldwide, approximately 27 million tons of sorghum were consumed as food each year during the 1992-94 period (Table 3), almost the entire amount in Africa and Asia. It is a key staple in many parts of the developing world, especially in the drier and more marginal areas of the semi-arid tropics. Per caput food consumption of sorghum in rural producing areas is more stable, and usually considerably higher, than in urban centres. And within these rural areas, consumption tends to be highest in the poorest, most food-insecure regions.

Sorghum is eaten in a variety of forms that vary from region to region. In general, it is consumed as whole grain or processed into flour, from which traditional meals are prepared. There are four main sorghum-based foods:

  • flat bread, mostly unleavened and prepared from fermented or unfermented dough in Asia and parts of Africa;
  • thin or thick fermented or unfermented porridge, mainly consumed in Africa;
  • boiled products similar to those prepared from maize grits or rice;
  • preparations deep-fried in oil.

Per caput consumption of sorghum – and its importance as a food security crop – is highest in Africa. For example, per caput consumption is 90-100 kg/yr in Burkina Faso and Sudan; sorghum provides over one-third of the total calorie intake in these two countries. However, per caput food consumption in Africa has fallen slightly (0.1 percent per annum) between 1979 and 1994 (Table 4), most sharply in Eastern Africa. Sorghum production in Africa rose by 44 percent during this period, but even this increase was not quite sufficient to keep pace with population growth.

During the 1979-94 period, per caput consumption of sorghum declined slightly through the 1980s, as a result of strong production growth. If this growth could be maintained, food security and nutrition levels could be improved substantially in rural areas, where over 90 percent of food sorghum in Africa is consumed.

In Asia, sorghum continues to be a crucial food security crop in some areas (e.g., rural Maharashtra in India, where per caput consumption is over 70 kg/yr). However, both production and food utilization have fallen during the 1980s and early 1990s, because of shifting consumer preferences. As incomes rise, consumers are shifting to wheat and rice which taste better and are easier and faster to cook. This trend is accentuated by rapid urbanization and the growing availability of a range of convenience foods based on wheat and rice.

Government policies in a number of countries have also contributed to the decline in food utilization of sorghum. For instance, imports of relatively cheap wheat and rice by many countries discouraged the consumption of locally produced cereals. In other countries (China and India), government purchases and sales of sorghum under public distribution systems were discontinued, lowering utilization in urban areas. In several countries, consumer subsidies, overvalued currencies or subsidized imports kept prices of wheat and/or rice relatively low, reducing the competitiveness of domestically produced coarse grains. However, structural adjustment programmes and the implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreement are reducing these market distortions in a number of countries.


Animal feed

About 48 percent of world sorghum grain production is fed to livestock (human food use constitutes about 42 percent). In contrast to food utilization, which is relatively stable, utilization for feed sorghum changes significantly in response to two factors: rising incomes, which stimulate the consumption of livestock products, and the price competitiveness of sorghum vis-a-vis other cereals, especially maize. While sorghum is generally regarded as an inferior cereal when consumed as food, the income elasticities for livestock products (and hence the derived demand for feed) are generally positive and high.

Demand for animal feed is concentrated in the developed countries and in middle-income countries in Latin America and Asia, where demand for meat is high and the livestock industry is correspondingly intensive. Over 85 percent of sorghum feed use occurs in Group II (Fig. 6). Three countries (United States, Mexico and Japan) together absorb nearly 70 percent of the world total (Table 5).


Sorghum utilization by type and region.

Direct food
(million tons)
(million tons)
Other uses1
(million tons)
Total utilization
(million tons)
Per caput food use
1979-81 average
Developing countries 25.0 14.7 4.4 44.2 7.7
Africa 9.0 0.8 2.3 12.1 18.8
Asia 15.7 7.4 2.0 25.1 6.1
Central America and the Caribbean 0.4 7.0 0.2 7.6 3.6
South America 0.1 3.7 0.3 4.1 0.3
Developed countries 0.3 20.4 0.6 21.2 0.2
North America 0.1 10.5 0.2 10.8 0.5
Europe 0.0 2.8 0.0 2.8 0.0
USSR (former) 0.0 2.5 0.0 2.5 0.0
Oceania 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.4 0.0
World 25.3 35.1 5.0 65.4 5.7
1989-91 average
Developing countries 25.1 14.5 3.7 43.3 6.2
Africa 11.5 0.9 1.8 14.2 18.2
Asia 13.3 6.1 1.6 21.0 4.6
Central America and the Caribbean 0.4 8.4 0.3 9.1 2.7
South America 0.0 2.7 0.2 2.9 0.1
Developed countries 0.4 16.8 0.5 17.7 0.3
North America 0.2 10.9 0.2 11.3 0.8
Europe 0.0 1.2 1.2 1.4 0.0
USSR (former) 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.3 0.0
Oceania 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.8 0.0
World 25.5 31.3 4.2 61.1 4.8
1992-94 average
Developing countries 26.4 14.8 5.5 46.7 6.2
Africa 12.8 1.3 3.2 17.3 18.6
Asia 13.3 5.6 2.0 20.9 4.1
Central America and the Caribbean 0.4 7.5 0.3 8.3 2.9
South America 0.0 3.1 0.3 3.4 0.1
Developed countries 0.3 15.8 0.7 16.8 0.2
North America 0.1 11.1 0.3 11.5 0.5
Europe 0.0 1.1 0.2 1.3 0.0
CIS 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.0
Oceania 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.8 0.0
World 26.7 30.6 6.2 63.5 4.8


For seed, manufacturing purposes and waste.





Estimated growth rates of sorghum utilization by type and region, 1979-94.

Direct food (%/yr) Feed (%/yr) Other uses1(%/yr) Total utilization (%/yr) Per caput food use (%/yr)
Developing countries 0.3 -0.3 0.7 0.1 -1.6
Africa 2.8 3.7 1.6 2.7 -0.1
Asia -1.6 -1.5 -1.0 -1.5 -3.4
Central America and the Caribbean 0.6 0.5 3.0 0.6 -1.6
South America -4.1 -2.3 0.1 -2.1 -6.0
Developed countries 3.8 -2.2 1.6 -2.0 2.7
North America 0.9 -0.2 1.6 -0.2 -0.1
Europe -51.7 -4.4 15.4 -3.0 0.0
CIS2 0.0 -23.6 2.2 -22.5 0.0
Oceania -5.5 4.7 51.0 -5.0 -7.4
World 0.3 -1.3 0.8 -0.5 -1.5

For seed, manufacturing purposes and waste.
Until 1991, area of the former USSR.
Source: FAO

World feed use rose from 16 million tons at the beginning of the 1960s to about 35 million tons by the mid-1980s, an average growth of 4 percent per annum. This demand was the main driving force in raising global production and international trade during that period. One major factor was increased use of sorghum feed in the United States during the 1960s and early 1970s, largely because the cattle-feeding industry shifted from the northern maize belt to the southern plains, where most United States sorghum is grown. Another factor was sharply rising demand for livestock products in Latin America, particularly in Mexico. In addition, government policies in some Latin American countries (e.g., Venezuela) restricted maize imports.

Trends since then were shaped by two events -response by the former USSR to the United States’ grain embargo on sales in the early 1980s, and policy changes in the United States that favoured maize over sorghum. These factors led to an increase in maize production; maize became cheaper than sorghum, and sorghum trade and utilization for animal feed declined. Feed utilization has gradually increased in Africa and remained relatively unchanged in the lower-income countries in Asia. Roughly 5-10 percent of the sorghum produced in India – and a considerably higher proportion in China – is used for livestock and poultry feed. However, both these regions are relatively minor users of feed; changes in utilization trends are driven largely by the Group II countries, particularly the United States.


Sorghum vs maize.

Competition between sorghum and maize is a key factor in feed utilization. The feed characteristics of sorghum are very similar to those of other cereals with which it competes. It provides about as much metabolizable energy as maize, has a higher crude protein content (though of lower quality), and is relatively rich in niacin, an essential vitamin. However, large investments in maize research have helped increase yields and reduce growing cycles for this competing energy source. This has improved the competitiveness of maize prices in many countries.

Feed industries in most countries apply least-cost formulations to produce compound feeds, in which sorghum/maize is mixed with non-grain ingredients. The quantity of sorghum used in feed depends primarily on the relative prices of sorghum and maize, and on relative feed value.

Another important factor is consumer preference for meat colour. Maize contains higher carotene levels than sorghum, so meat from maize-fed animals tends to be more yellow than meat from sorghum-fed animals. In Japan for example, consumers generally prefer white-coloured meat. Therefore, sorghum is a valued ingredient in some compound feed rations (for poultry, pigs and some breeds of beef cattle). In contrast, sorghum is discounted by producers in India because consumers there generally prefer poultry meat and egg yolks with a deeper yellow colour.

In addition, farmers in Asia have shown a growing interest in the sale and purchase of sorghum fodder. While the use of sorghum crop residues in Africa remains largely restricted to the farm, there is a large and growing market in Asia for traded sorghum residues to meet both rural feed shortfalls and urban agricultural demand, the latter largely for maintenance of dairy animals.


Feed sorghum utilization in selected countries.

1979-81 average (million tons) 1984-86 average (million tons) 1989-91 average
(million tons)
1992-94 average (million tons)
United States 10.5 14.7 10.9 11.1
Mexico 6.7 6.6 8.1 7.1
Japan 4.1 4.2 3.5 2.6
China 2.4 2.1 1.5 1.9
Argentina 2.1 2.5 0.9 1.5
EC 1.8 0.5 0.8 0.9
Australia 0.4 0.3 0.8 0.8
Colombia 0.5 0.5 0.7 0.7
Venezuela 0.7 1.3 0.6 0.4
CIS1 2.5 0.9 0.3 0.1
Others 3.4 3.1 3.2 3.2
World 35.1 36.7 31.3 30.6


Until 1991, area of the former USSR.
Source: FAO


Other uses

Another important outlet for grain sorghum, especially in Africa, is in the preparation of alcoholic beverages. The grain is used for malt or as an adjunct in the production of two types of beer: clear beer and opaque beer, a traditional, low-alcohol African beer that contains fine suspended particles. Although statistics on the quantities of sorghum used in beer preparation are lacking for many countries, the available data indicate that most of this grain is allocated to opaque beer production. Sorghum is traditionally a major ingredient in home-brewed beer, the growing demand for which has created a commercial industry in some countries. This industry produces both opaque beer and dried beer powder for retail sale. Much smaller quantities are used to produce clear beer, primarily in Nigeria and Rwanda. A temporary ban on barley imports in Nigeria during the late 1980s and early 1990s encouraged the development of a market for sorghum-based malt drinks. Small quantities of grain are also used for the production of sweeteners in Nigeria.

Outside Africa, small quantities are used in the beer industries in Mexico and the United States. In China, about one-third of sorghum grain production is reported to be used to make alcoholic beverages, mainly a strong traditional liquor.



Sorghum Processing Equipment Introduction

Sorghum processing equipment is used for cleaning, hulling, grading, colour sorting, packaging sorghum. Sorghum processing equipment usually refers to the processing line. It can meet the market’s need, and create more economic profits for clients.

Sorghum Processing Equipment Technical Description

The raw material is elevated to cleaning process where double sifters and destoners are installed. The vibration screen effectively clean big and small impurities; the destoner completely removes heavy impurities like stones and mud; The magnetic separator is mainly used to clean out the metal, greatly increasing purity of the finished products; the collector gathers the impurities.


The purified materials go to the processing procedure where two emery and iron roll hullers are installed. The emery roll huller is a new equipment well designed and developed according to clients’ requirements; the spiral conveyor is used to charge in the material by force with stable flow but small amount of brokens. The huller is equipped with indicator to display current and voltage, regulator to adjust multiple ventilation doors; the advanced wear resistant parts in the machine are durable. The iron roll huller is effective and stable; the spiral conveyor is used to charge in the material but force with stable flow by small amount of brokens. The huller is equipped with indicator to display current and voltage, regulator to adjust multiple ventilation doors; the wear resistant parts in the machine are of advanced technology.


The hulled sorghum is elevated to the polisher to be whitened and sifted out the brokens with double-case plansifter. Then they go to the colour grader to be selected out the particles of different colour.
By-products (husks, flour) from emery roll and iron roll hullers and polishers are individually packaged by packaging cabinet.

Sorghum Processing Equipment Structure

The sorghum processing equipment consists of: sorghum processing equipment (e.g.: sorghum huller, sorghum rice miller and polisher, colour-sorter, etc.) and foodstuff processing general equipment (e.g.: hoist, de-stoner, H-efficient vibrating sifter etc.). The line can process sorghum rice, and the finished products are series of sorghum rice and feed. Sorghum processing equipment features:

  • It has high yield, inclusion-free of the finished sorghum.
  • The line has simple structure, high adjustability for the field area and the workshop.
  • It can effectively cut down the fixed investment.
  • It has simple installation and short construction period.
  • The line adopts the most advanced technology, which can save more energy.
  • Win Tone sorghum processing equipment is the perfect choice for millet and sorghum processing.

Technical Function and Consumption

  1. Raw material
    Volume weight: no less than 740g/L;brokens: less than 3%; impurity: less than 1;moisture: less than 14.5%
  2. Power:220V&380V, 50Hz(or according to the buyer’s local condition);
  3. Water:public water up to drinking standard under 30℃, average flow meets production and life requirements;
  4. Main design index:
    Capacity:20-500tpd in normal condition.
    Workshop environment:
    Dust concentration ≤15mg/m3


Item Unit Capacity Unit Cost (₦’000) Total Cost (₦’000)
Cabinet Drier       1  500kg/Batch    1,800.00 1,800.00
Grain Destoner       1 1T/Hour    375.00   375.00
Aspirator       1  1T/Hour     250.00   250.00
Hammer Mill with cyclone       1  1T/Hour     1,200.000    1,200.000
Cone blender      1  50kg/Batch      450.00    450.00
Band Sealing Machine 1 350.00 350.00
Weighing Machine 650.00 650.00


The prices of these machinery & equipment above are tentatives and subject to confirmation at the Institute. For further enquiry please call: 08023415016; 08027155981; 08082429082; 08038010362; 08023284509; 08034545899; 08023653752 and 08035202434.




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