The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has inaugurated a technical committee to streamline the existing sorghum varieties to meet food and industrial demand.
Inaugurating the committee over the weekend in Abuja, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the director, federal department of agriculture (FDA), Mrs Karima Babangida, tasked stakeholders in the value chain, including the farmers, seed producers and input providers to collaborate, to achieve set target and become the very highest producer as well as beef up for export and generate revenue for the nation.
He explained that the crop has recently assumed great industrial relevance, such that many multinational companies especially the breweries now use sorghum grits as adjuncts (up to 40 per cent) to barley base (mash) for making alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, breakfast cereals, flour mills (which use sorghum in place of wheat for composite flour which serves as the main ingredient in the manufacture of confectioneries such as bread, biscuits, cracker, cakes, couscous, infant foods and cookies).
Umakhihe went further to say that food products which sorghum serves as one of the ingredients are noodles, spaghetti and macaroni. In addition, the non-food industrial use of sorghum as grits also exists in aluminium ore refining, animal feeds, building materials and foundry binders. The prevalence of many varieties and cultivars was identified as the major problem leading to low sorghum productivity and supply shortfall.
“The varieties are not what is needed by our food industries. This necessitated the need to streamline the existing varieties to meet our food, industrial and export needs,” he said.
Umakhihe also said that, to achieve the above, the ministry has, therefore, set up this technical committee to streamline the existing varieties and find other ways of improving the productivity and quality of sorghum produce.
“This is essential as it will also enhance farmers’ income, attract more youth to sorghum cultivation, meet our national demand and contribute to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he stated.
In his acceptance speech, the chairman of the committee, Prof. Dan Abah, assured that the members will work assiduously towards achieving the terms of reference of the committee which will ensure that the sorghum sub-sector improves on quality seeds, production and increase income for farmers.
The terms of reference (ToR) to guide the committee include identification of the variety of sorghum being cultivated by sorghum farmers at different major growing areas across the country, determining varieties that are suitable to specific areas and giving higher yields to meet up with our food and industrial needs, identify varieties particularly for malting and flour industries for promotion of their products and to submit its report to the ministry two months from inception.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information and signed by Modupe Olatunji said the committee is expected to commence work immediately.