Sorghum is one of the most common varieties of grass species. It is in the family of sugar cane. It is a self pollination plant that performs very well in warm climates. It is both drought and heat tolerant and specifically does well in arid regions.
Most Sorghum species are native to the tropical and subtropical regions. Sorghum is very common in most African cultures which use it as a grain. Most Africans also cultivate sorghum as a fodder plant for their pasture.
The seed, stalks or even leaves can be used to feed livestock. Better still, they can be used as forage. Sorghum is a staple food for over 500 million Africans. It is in fact the fifth most important cereal crop in most countries. It follows wheat, oat, corn and barley.
Sorghum originates from Africa with Egypt being the largest producer. Most African cultures consume sorghum in the form of bread and thick and thin porridges. It has a very high energy and nutritional value that should therefore not be ignored.
It has high fiber, iron and protein content. It is now gaining popularity as a feedstock for ethanol production among many Africans. It is also used as a source of fuel. Sorghum is also known to have high levels of iron and zinc which has increased its status as a food that reduces micro-nutrient malnutrition.
Some sorghum species are known to contain levels of nitrates lethal and hydrogen cyanide which are harmful to the health of people and grazing animals.
To preserve sorghum for a longer period of time, most African cultures wait until it is dry before harvesting it. Most of them store the grain as a whole. It is very important to avoid harvesting sorghum when it is moist as this will prevent you from incurring huge losses.
Some sorghum species are preserved for making sorghum syrup. In this case it is the stalks which are harvested and not the seeds. They are crushed to produce the syrup.
This syrup is later cooked in order to concentrate its natural sugars and then it is packaged for sale. In some countries the wet milling is done to make sorghum starch which is used in most industrial applications for example adhesives and paper making.
In most African cultures sorghum is grounded and the flour used in the making of porridge which is a favorite African meal.