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   Crops Sorghum


Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench)

Sorghum is a self-pollinated diploid (2n=2x=20) C4 grass with a high photosynthetic efficiency. Its small genome size (730 Mbp, about 25% the size of maize or sugarcane) is fully sequenced and makes sorghum an attractive model for functional genomics of C4 grasses. Sorghum is one among the few resilient crops that can adapt well to future climate change conditions, particularly the increasing drought, soil salinity and high temperatures.


Figure 1. Three-year moving average for sorghum area, production, yield; and number of released varieties (3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material globally.

Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop and is the dietary staple of more than 500 million people in 30 countries. It is grown on 40 million ha in 105 countries of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The USA, India, México, Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia are the major producers. Other sorghum producing countries include Australia, Brazil, Argentina, China, Burkina Faso, Mali, Egypt, Niger, Tanzania, Chad and Cameroon. Grain is mostly used as food (55%), in the form of flat breads and porridges (thick or thin) in Asia and Africa, and as feed (33%) in the Americas. Its stover is an increasingly important source of dry season fodder for livestock, especially in Asia.

Global sorghum area trends indicate that area increased from 45 million ha in the 1970s to 51 million ha in the 1980s. Later, there was fluctuation in area by 4 to 10 million ha and it declined to 40 million ha by 2009. Grain yields have increased from 1200 kg/ha in the 1970s to 1400 kg/ha in 2009 (Figure 1).

Asia

The sorghum area in Asia declined continuously from 23 million ha in the early 1970s to 9 million ha in 2009 (Figure 2). Production declined from 19 million tons in the early 1970s to 10 million tons in 2009. However, grain yield increased from 800 kg/ha to 1130 kg/ha during the same period.


Figure 2. Three-year moving average for sorghum area, production, yield; and number of released varieties (3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material in Asia.

 


Figure 3. Three-year moving average for sorghum area, production, yield; and number of released varieties (3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material in India.

India

The sorghum area in India was more than 16 million ha in 1981, but has gradually decreased to 7.8 million ha in 2007-08 (still 20% of the world’s sorghum area). Of this, 3.5 million ha was grown in the rainy (kharif) season and 4.3 million ha in the postrainy (rabi) season. Production increased from 9 million tons in the early 1970s to 12 million tons in the early 1980s and maintained this level for over a decade until the early 1990s, followed by a steep decline to 7.3 million tons (Figure 3). Despite the decrease in area over the years, production has been sustained at 7.3 million tons (2009) due mainly to adoption of improved varieties and hybrids. Sorghum grain yields in India have averaged 1170 kg/ha in the rainy season and 880 kg/ha in the postrainy season in recent years.


Figure 4. Three-year moving average for sorghum area, production, yield; and number of released varieties(3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material in ESA.

Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)

Area and production in ESA has increased significantly from the early 1970s to 2009, while there has been a marginal (18%) increase in productivity from 800 kg/ha to over 940 kg/ha during the same period (Figure 4).

West and Central Africa (WCA)

 

In West and Central Africa, the increase in sorghum area was more than two-fold from 1972 to 2008 (7.39 to 16.59 million ha), while production increased by almost four times during the same period (4.24 to 16.08 million tons). However, there was 22% reduction in area (12.92million ha) and 28% reduction in production (11.52 million tons/ha) in 2009. Grain yield increased by 17% over 2008 levels (Figure 5). Overall in WCA, an 80% improvement in productivity was seen from the early 1970s (700 kg/ha) to 2009 (1260 kg/ha).


Figure 5. Three-year moving average for sorghum area, production, yield; and number of released varieties (3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material in WCA.

Latin America (LA)

Sorghum area in Latin America increased from 4 million ha in the early 1970s to 5 million ha in the early 1980s followed by a decrease to the 4 million ha level of the early 1970s (Figure 6). Production increased by 67% from the early 1970s to the early 1980s (9 to 15 million tons), followed by a decrease to 9 million tons in the early 1990s. However, in 2009 production increased to 11 million tons. Productivity increased by 55%, from 2000 kg/ha in the early 1970s to 3100 kg/ha in 2009.


Figure 6. Three-year moving average for sorghum area, production, yield; and number of released varieties (3-year total) based on ICRISAT-bred material in Latin America.

Cultivars released

A total of 242 cultivars have been released using germplasm and ICRISAT-bred lines and hybrid parents, over the years in all regions (Asia, ESA, WCA and LA) (Figures 1-5). The number of cultivar releases was highest in Asia (75) including 35 in India, closely followed by ESA (74), WCA (58) and Latin America (35). While released cultivars include both hybrids and varieties in Asia, releases were mostly varieties in WCA and ESA (the exception being a hybrid released in Sudan).

Energy and nutrition

 

Sweet sorghum is a multipurpose crop that gives food, feed, fodder and fuel without significant trade-offs in grain production. ICRISAT is researching the use of sweet sorghum for ethanol production technology. Sorghum has the potential for high levels of iron (more than 70 ppm) and zinc (more than 50 ppm) in the grain, and hence sorghum biofortification (genetic enhancement) of grain iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) contents is targeted to complement other methods to reduce micronutrient malnutrition globally.

Sorghum core and mini-core collections and references sets representing the diversity of the global collection have been developed by ICRISAT and partners for enhanced utilization of genetic resources in crop improvement programs globally.

 

 

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.