By: Ehab A. M. Frah
Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world and is used for food, fodder and production of alcoholic beverages. Overall it is an important crop type of food in Africa, Central America and South Asia. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported. The average annual yield in 2010 across the world was reported as 1.37 Tone’s/Ha, with the highest yields recorded in Jordan (12.7 T/Ha). In the USA this figure was 4.5 T/Ha. Sorghum is the staple food for most people living in Sudan, except for the northern areas (Nahr al-Nil and Northern states) where wheat is more common. Sorghum is the largest crop (ranked by area) in Sudan with about 6.5 million Ha grown in 2009.
Most of it is rain-fed. The geographical of distribution of sorghum is; Gadarif State (eastern Sudan) is the most important region for sorghum production, where about 5-6 million feddan are cultivated on an annual basis. Mainly to large scale farming where agricultural machinery is used. The dominant varieties grown are the traditional (Feterita) types e.g. (Arfa Gadmek, Abdalla Mustafa, Korolo. Tetron and Dabar) are grown on a limited scale. Some progressive farmers in south Gadarif grow the improved varieties, Wad Ahmed and Tabat. Sudan was exporting some quantities of sorghum in the 80’s and 90’s but reached almost zero levels in 2000. At the same time Sudan started to import 300 to 400 thousand Tonnes per year to cover its needs. Sorghum cannot be planted until soil temperatures have reached 17°C and requires an average temperature of at least 25°C to produce maximum grain yields while maximum photosynthesis potential is achieved at daytime temperatures of around 30°C. Night time temperatures below 13°C for more than a few days can severely affect potential grain production. Sorghum is drought tolerant and is able to grow economically in low rainfall areas, below 450 mm. However, in order to achieve high yields 100mm rainfall equivalent irrigation water should be applied per month if sufficient rainfall does not occur. Soil should be subject to soil analysis for nutrients availability. Organic manure and nitrogen fertilizers are the two main sources of plant nutrition when sufficient water is available through rainfall or irrigation. Most of the crop is manually harvested and left in open air to dry until grain moisture content is below 10%. Usually sowing takes place from mid-June until mid-July. Timing is very important for achieving yield potential as the growing season is long (usually 90–120 days) and late sown crops suffer loss of production. Seed rate is typically 3 Kg/Feddan which is enough to produce 42000–52000 plants per Feddan. In rain-fed areas this rate can be increased to 3.5Kg per Feddan to compensate for the less favorable conditions
Africa accounts only for a quarter of world’s sorghum production. Nigeria and Sudan contribute nearly half of the sorghum production in Africa . Sudan is one of the most important countries producing sorghum in the world. It has the fifth rank after China, India, USA and Nigeria in sorghum production, but it is number one in per capita area and grain consumption for human beings .
Sudan shares in total sorghum production which is amounting to 6.51% and 19.6% of the world and Africa production respectively in 2009/2010 season. Sorghum is produced in the three sub-sectors in the Sudan, namely; the irrigated, mechanized and traditional rainfed subsectors. The traditional rainfed sub-sector is mainly found in Kordofan, Darfur plus a large area in the Central States. The contribution of this sub-sector to the total sorghum output is estimated at only 29.91 percent (about 541 thousand metric tons) from an area of about 1.353million feddan in 2011/12. The low share of this sub-sector is due to the production of sorghum mainly for subsistence
By: Ehab A. M. Frah