The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture ( FDA), Mrs Karima Babangida has inaugurated a technical committee to streamline the existing Sorghum varieties to meet food and Industrial demand.
Umakhihe noted that the Ministry has been promoting Sorghum production and Value addition towards self-sufficiency and meeting
industrial requirements of the country for which Nigeria currently ranks the 2nd highest producer in Africa.
Speaking at the event over the weekend, the Permanent Secretary tasked stakeholders in the value chain including, the Farmers, Seed producers and Input providers to collaborate in order to achieve set target and become the very highest producer as well as beef up for export and generate revenue for the nation.
He explained that the crop has recently assumed great industrial relevance such that many multinational companies especially the breweries now use sorghum grits as adjuncts (up to 40%) to barley base (mash) for making alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (Maltina, Maltex and Amstel Malt).
He said breakfast cereals such as flakes are also made from it, while four mills use sorghum in place of wheat for composite flour which serves as the main ingredient in the manufacture of confectioneries such as bread, biscuits, cracker, cakes, couscous, infant foods and cookies.
The Permanent Secretary further stated that food products which sorghum serves as one of the ingredients are Indomie, spaghetti and macaroni.
“In addition, the non-food industrial use of sorghum as grits also exist in aluminium ore refining, animal feeds, building materials and foundry binders.
“The prevalence of many varieties and cultivars was identified as the major problem leading to low sorghum productivity resulting in the supply shortfall. The varieties are not what is needed by our food industries. This necessitated the need to streamline the existing varieties to meet our food, industrial and export needs”, he said.
Umakhihe also said that, to achieve the above, the Ministry has therefore set up this Technical Committee to streamline the existing varieties and find other ways of improving productivity and quality of Sorghum produce.
He said this is essential as it will also enhance farmers’ income, attract more youth to sorghum cultivation, meet our national demand and contribute to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In his acceptance speech, the Chairman of the Technical committee, Professor Dan Abah assured that the members will work assiduously towards achieving the terms of Reference of the committee which will ensure that the sorghum sub sector improve on quality seeds, production and increase income for farmers.