Because of its fertile soils and congenial climate, Mozambique has a great potential for biofuel production. Recognizing this, the country established a bio-fuel task force in 2007 and has been developing a biofuel national policy framework. In order to contribute to this new interest, ICRISAT-Maputo partnered with Eco Energia, a Mozambican company with ties to the Swedish company SEKAB, to test sweet sorghum varieties in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique. Eco Energia/SEKAB plan to use both sugarcane and sweet sorghum to produce and eventually export bioethanol to countries such as Sweden that are starting to require increasing quantities of ethanol in their efforts to meet EU regulations. Eco Energia/SEKAB will work with smallholder farmers in Mozambique and give them the opportunity to grow sweet sorghum for ethanol production.
A good stand of sweet sorghum in Mozambique.
ICRISAT gave Eco-Energia/SEKAB 24 varieties of sweet sorghum to screen for a variety of traits such as the overall yield, Brix values (sugar content), biomass yield per hectare, and quantity of juice. The sweet sorghum was planted in three areas in Cabo Delgado - Ocua, Chipembe, and Catapua - sites that were chosen for their different soil types, climates and average rainfalls.
After one growing season the results seem promising. Early data analysis shows that the varieties are doing very well in Chipembe. The varieties are producing sugar within 90-120 days, and some even earlier than that. The wide variability in the response of these lines in term of sugar content, juice volume and grain yield is encouraging (Table 1)..
ICRISAT-Maputo's partnership with Eco Energia/SEKAB is a good example of partnerships that promote research and encourage new developments for small-scale farmers in the region. In September a delegation from SEKAB visited ICRISAT headquarters in Patancheru to meet with scientists working on sweet sorghum as well as officials from Rusni Distilleries who are also partnering with ICRISAT to assess the viability of sweet sorghum for ethanol production. The visit proved very fruitful in guiding further research and developing the right research questions to benefit Mozambique.
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