Economic Importance of Sorghum

  • K. Hariprasanna
  • Sujay RakshitEmail author
Part of the Compendium of Plant Genomes book series (CPG)


Sorghum acts as a dietary staple for millions of people living in about 30 countries in the subtropical and semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. It is a source of food and fodder, mostly in the traditional, smallholder farming sector. It also finds a place in the high-input commercial farming sector as a feed crop, and is fast emerging as a biofuel crop. More than 80 % of the global sorghum area is characterized by low yield levels contributing to slightly above half of total grain output whereas the rest comes from the developed world with high yield levels. Though sorghum cultivation is reported from more than 100 countries, only eight countries have over 1 million ha area under sorghum, which together contribute more than 60 % of world sorghum production. In Africa, although only a few countries contribute a major share of area, sorghum is widely distributed and is a major staple food grain in large parts of the continent. In spite of its economic importance, sorghum cropped area around the world has declined over the last four decades at a rate of over 0.15 million ha per year. However, in some countries including Brazil, Ethiopia, Sudan, Australia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso it is expanding, mainly because of new land brought under sorghum cultivation or diversion of a portion of area planted to other crops such as maize and wheat. Global sorghum production peaked during the mid-1980s, and thereafter it declined by about 13–15 %, but not steadily. In almost all the sorghum growing regions except Africa yield levels have been enhanced over the years as a result of improved cultivars, higher input use, better resources, and crop management. Most of the sorghum is consumed in the countries where it is produced and world trade is mainly linked to demand for livestock products, which is governed by the feed requirements and prices in developed countries. Consumption of sorghum for food purposes is declining because of a change in food habits and consumer preference brought about by economic status, whereas use for animal feed and other industrial purposes is increasing. Under a changing climate regime sorghum would assume renewed importance as a food and industrial crop, and therefore concerted focus is necessary on such marginalized crops to ensure food and nutritional security in a sustainable manner in the years to come.


Origin Distribution Utilization Trade Consumption 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets ResearchHyderabadIndia

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