Sorghum is an important income and food security crop for those living in drought-prone regions of Uganda. Many races of the cereal are grown in almost all zones but the northern region is the highest producer followed by eastern, western and lastly the central. Much as the northern region is the highest producer of sorghum, the region experiences the lowest productivity indicating that production is due to increased area in cultivation.
Uses of sorghum in Uganda
- In Uganda, like in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa most of the sorghum produced (47%) is consumed at household level followed by selling grain.
- Sorghum being an important food security crop, a greater percentage is stored mostly for later use as food.
- Much of what is sold is used for making alcohol lager beer by East African Breweries and Nile Breweries.
- The grain is sometimes an ingredient of livestock feed while the stover is used for forage.
- The forage may be fed sole or mixed with brewer’s mash.
- The mash is also a good laxative feed for lactating cattle which results in increased milk production.
Sorghum farmers’ desirable attributes
- Despite the availability of high yielding improved sorghum varieties, more than 60% of sorghum farmers in Uganda grow land races much as they are low yielding.
- However, through participatory interaction with farmers desirable attributes were identified.
- This has led to developing sorghum genotypes with the attributes desired on the market in order to increase adoption rates.
- The market driven attributes include; tolerance to prevalent constraints especially striga, drought, disease and insect pests, low soil fertility.
- Like in most East African countries farmers in Uganda prefer brown to red grain sorghum because of the minimal damage from birds.
- The sorghum with brown and red color is associated with high tannin levels and less preferred by birds.
- In addition specialty sorghum such as SESO1 was developed for breweries for making lager beer brands such as eagle, senator, engule and chibuku.
- The panicles should be compact with bold grains.
Other attributes preferred by farmers include; short glumes, palatability, easy to grind, resistance to lodging, stay green and sweet stems