Sorghum is one of the major and commonly found commodities in the food and beverage industries in northern Nigeria ; the industrial demand for sorghum in the country is estimated to be about 200,000 metric tons. The potential of sorghum is more, given the fact that it is reported to be the 5th most important cereal in the world in terms of both production and area planted. Nigeria is said to be the second largest producer of sorghum in the world, with annual production in excess of 8 million metric tons. The major production of sorghum in the country is within the North East and North West parts of the country. But even at that, most of the sorghum produced is mainly used for the processing and production of local food with small proportion of the harvest traded only at the local markets where it brings little returns with high record of post harvest losses. Given this development and the need to boost the quality of sorghum production and make it a viable business for farmers, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture came up with the Sorghum Transmission Value Chain (STVC) programme. The ministry recently gathered about 100 sorghum farmers drawn from three North east states of Adamawa, Borno and Taraba in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital where they received training on best practices in sorghum production for better output. Similar training was held in Bauchi State for sorghum farmers drawn from Gombe, Yobe and Bauchi states in a drive to boost the production of sorghum as well as add value to its processing and production. Deputy Director, Sorghum Transformation Value Chain, Opara Obinna , who represented the minister at the training, said the workshop was to update farmers with improved modern agronomic and cultural practices in sorghum production for bumper and quality output. "This training was borne out of recognition that our farmers need to be updated with improved/modern agronomic and cultural practices required to attain the full potentials of the improved high yielding sorghum varieties distributed to them through FMARD GES platform for maximum productivity and quality grain uptake," he said. He said the Sorghum Transformation Value Chain of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture focuses on improving the food and nutrition security of consumers of sorghum in the country, especially within the North East and North West sub- regions. "Because we at the STVC of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are determined to turn sorghum production by our farmers into viable business, we are now training them here in Taraba on modern agronomic, harvesting and post harvest to ensure Good Agronomic Practice (GAP) to attain quality grain uptake for manufacturers and millers," he added. The programme also aims at creating wealth and generating sustainable employment for women and youths, with about 100,000 improved sorghum seedlings already given to farmers in the 2013 farming season. Opara said that with the improved seedlings, many sorghum farmers are now reaping bumper harvests compared to yields they hitherto reaped from the local variety. He urged farmers to always use the improved variety of sorghum, adding that there are some hybrid varieties that could yield as much as 4 metric tons per hectare. For chairman of Sorghum Farmers Association in Borno State, Pius Mbwidiffu, the improved seedlings given to them by the federal government had greatly boosted sorghum production in the state. He said that farmers that hitherto produced about 5 to 10 bags from the local variety now produce between 40 to 50 bags with the new improved seedlings. Pius appealed to the federal ministry of agriculture to continue with the initiative so as to help farmers boost sorghum production in the state. On his part, chairman of sorghum farmers in Adamawa State, Ayuba Bwangale, also lauded the initiative of government in training and equipping sorghum farmers to boost their yield. Another aspect the Sorghum Transformation Value Chain programme aims at improving, is of its processing in order to get quality grain output. Many of the sorghum farmers in the northern sub-region thresh their products manually which often lead to waste and poor output of the grains thereby depreciating its market value. To address this challenge, the farmers were introduced to the use of threshing and milling machines to add more value to their product. State Director of Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Taraba State, Samuel Shehu Adaji, encouraged sorghum farmers to form co-operative societies to enable them access loans they can use in procuring threshing and milling machines. Farmers were also encouraged to set up cottage mills where their products can be milled and packaged to add more value to their commodity. With the Sorghum Transformation Value Chain initiative, it is hoped that sorghum production in the northeast sub-region would receive a boost in the coming year. Breweries operating in Nigeria are also in high demand for sorghum which is one of their major raw material for the production of beer even though some of them use maize.
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