Sorghum An Essential African Food

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.

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One Response to Sorghum An Essential African Food

  1. phoenix says:

    It is a cereal grass with broad corn-like leaves and large clusters of grain atop tall stalks. It is believed that sorghum originated in Africa,where it is an important food grain and an ingredient in beer. Worldwide, it’s the third largest food grain. In the U.S., most of the sorghum grown goes to animal feed, and a very small portion is used to make sweetener. Sorghum molasses was a favorite sweetener, particularly in the South, during the 1800s and early 1900s. Around the end of World War I refined sugar products became more readily available and less expensive, thus causing a decline in the use of sorghum as a sweetener.

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