Outcome of the Sorghum congress - Milano - 7-8 November 2018

The 2nd International Sorghum Congress took place on 7-8 November 2018 in Milan. This gave an opportunity to discuss the ability of sorghum to compete with other cereals both in terms of profitability for farmers and economic/nutritional interest for users in both food and feed sectors. It was concluded that sorghum has a number of assets in particular in terms of environmental performance (resistance to drought and natural resilience to pest and diseases), safety (low occurrence of mycotoxins) and nutritional value (higher ME value than maize, higher protein content). It was perceived that the reasons why sorghum is no more produced / used is a deficit of communication on the actual economic, nutritional and environmental benefit and the perception that sorghum is rich in antinutritional factors, e.g. tannins, which is no longer the case for EU produced sorghum for more than 20 years.

Sorghum represents 3% of the global cereals production and is the 5th cereal produced globally. The area and production have been stable area since the early 2000s with 42 mio. Ha and 60 mio. T. The demand is also stable, although there has been recently a sharp increase in certain countries such as China, who used to be a main outlet for US produced Sorghum. 50% of the global production is meant for food use (especially in Africa and South Asia), 45% feed (mostly in developed countries) and the rest is used for bioenergy (in particular in Germany).

The trade of sorghum has doubled over the last 10 years, with increase in demand for feed use from countries such as China. The EU production is only 0.7 mio. T, mainly France and Italy. Italy and Spain are the largest users, with imports from third countries like Ukraine and Russia and more recently from Sudan.

The EU platform Sorghum ID was established in 2017 with the objective of fostering a virtuous circle to encourage farmers both in the EU and European neighboring countries (Ukraine, Russia) to develop their production of sorghum and promote consumption via active communication on nutritional values. Several research projects are going on to better characterize the nutritional value of sorghum and variability across EU countries and evaluate better the nutritional value for poultry. FEFAC holds vice chair of Sorghum ID and is supportive of investment in research on new varieties with higher yields and nutritional quality. All presentations of the Sorghum congress will be available on the Sorghum ID website.