By Kudirat Musa
He said that sorghum as a genus of grasses which could be cultivated in warmer climates worldwide; adding that increased sorghum production had the potential to strengthen ongoing efforts to diversify the country’s economy via agriculture.
“Sorghum is the fifth most important crop grown in the world; it is also the most important cereal in the northern states of Nigeria, which cover the Guinea Savannah zone.
“Sorghum is grown on about 5.6 million hectares in Nigeria but the current annual production is estimated to be only over 2.8 million tonnes.
“It has multifarious uses which span across the production of malt, beer, beer powder, sorghum meal, sorghum rice and livestock feeds, among others.
“The whole grain may be ground into flour which is then used in various traditional foods,’’ he said.
Mohammed noted that Nigeria was the largest sorghum producer in West Africa, accounting for about 71 per cent of the total regional output.
“Nigeria’s sorghum production also accounted for about 50 per cent of the African production in 2017.
“The country is the third largest world producer of sorghum, after the U.S. and India. However, 90 per cent of sorghum produced by the U. S. and India are used for animal feeds, thereby making Nigeria the world’s leading country in sorghum foods production.
“We need more support from federal, state and local governments as well as donor agencies in terms of the provision of quality seeds, irrigation facilities, agricultural equipment, among others, for us to do more and maintain our leading role,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that sorghum cultivation required a well-tilled seed bed with a planting population of 3.0 to 7.0kg seeds per hectare, while the planting period usually varied from September to January, depending on prevailing ecological conditions.
He, nonetheless, noted that sorghum plantations were sometimes plagued by different kinds of diseases and pests such as Maize Stem Borers, Chilo Partellus (spotted stalk borer), Bollworm, Shoot Fly, Fungi, Virus and Bacteria, which drastically affected the quality of yield.