Nigeria’s Sorghum farmers expect higher output on weather, increased demand

Nigerian sorghum farmers are expecting higher yield this year on favorable weather and increasing demand for local sorghum for human, industrial and animal consumption. These have spurred more farmers to take on production of the crop, local producers say.

Nigeria currently produces 6.6 million tons of sorghum, making it the second largest producers of the crop, although the Nigerian ministry of agriculture and rural development says the country produces 11 million tons a year.

Sorghum is an important crop used for malt, beer, beer powder, sorghum meal, sorghum rice, livestock feed and traditional foods in Nigeria.

“The rains have been falling steadily these days and so we are expecting good yields and increase in production from last year,” Kabiru Ibrahim, national president of All Farmers Association (AFAN) said via phone, adding farmers are gradually taking on sorghum farming against previous years.

Rising demand for sorghum by the brewery companies like Nigerian Breweries who are substituting barley for sorghum sourced locally is driving increased outputs this year farmers say, and is leading to increased farmers’ participation in producing the crop according to Rabe Daura Katsina chairman of Sorghum Farmers Association who said an additional 3,000 farmers are planting sorghum this year in his northern state.

Increased private sector participation from companies like Nestlé Nigeria who is sourcing 80 per cent of its sorghum and other crops from more than 41,00 local farmers and processors many of whom are women is seen as driving increased output this year.

“Before our farmers in the northern states have shelved sorghum farming due to religious reasons but are gradually coming back to produce the crop due to private sector partnership and incentives from the federal government,” Ibrahim said.

Faruk Rabi’u, Kano state chairman of Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) said 14,000 farmers have registered to produce sorghum under the government funded anchor borrowers program this year. He expects yield to increase from 1.2 tons per hectare from last year to 1.4 tons per hectare on farming input support such as chemicals and improved seeds, training on better farm management techniques, as well as funding through some out-grower arrangements.

Nigeria is the world’s second largest producer of sorghum after the United States, with an annual output of 6.6 million tons. The USDA forecasts that production will increase by four per cent from 6.6 million tons of last year to 6.8 million tons this year.

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