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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters: Sorghum and millet

Sorghum is an important world crop, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or “sorghum molasses”), animal fodder, the production of alcoholic drinks, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people.

Millet probably originated in tropical West Africa. Pearl millet is now one of the major crops in the drier and less fertile agricultural regions of Africa. Millet is well-adapted to poor, dry, and infertile soils, and yields more reliably in these conditions than most other grains. For more information about sorghum and millet, see: http://www.gramene.org/species/sorghum/sorghum_intro.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet

One of Farm Radio Weekly’s first issues (#2, December 2007) told how traditional crops such as millet and sorghum can help farmers maintain food security in the face of climate change. It is available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2007/12/10/1-africa-re-discovery-of-traditional-crops-helps-farmers-cope-with-climate-change-farm-radio-weekly/

Another early issue (#6, January 2008) featured a story from Nigeria. The story described how farmers were included in field trials to identify the best millet varieties for dry conditions, and then multiply the seeds from those varieties. Read it here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/01/14/2-nigeria-farmers-test-best-millet-varieties-for-dry-conditions-allafricacom/

More recently, Farm Radio Weekly has produced stories about farmers who chose new crops to replace failing traditional crops.

–          Kenyan farmers have started growing upland rice to offset the decrease in maize production (issue #240, March 2013): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/24/kenya-upland-rice-gives-hope-to-small-scale-maize-farmers-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kenya/

–          Tanzanian farmers are growing sesame instead of their usual cash crops (issue #239, March 2013): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/18/tanzania-sesame-co-op-improves-yields-sales-and-income-by-paddy-roberts-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-tanzania/

–          Men return to growing sesame (issue #228, December 2012): http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/12/10/niger-men-return-to-growing-sesame-by-souleymane-saddi-maazou-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-niger/

The story of Mr. Moyo in this issue raises questions about growing non-traditional crops. You might consider producing radio spots or interviewing farmers on how they make decisions about these kinds of crops. For maize-growing regions in particular, you could follow up by asking maize farmers whether they have considered growing sorghum or millet.

Here are some questions to ask farmers:

Where do you get information about new varieties or non-traditional crops? What factors do you consider when choosing to grow something different? What circumstances would convince you to try a completely different crop? What are the most important factors in your decisions?

One Response to “Notes to broadcasters: Sorghum and millet”

  1. Farm Radio Weekly » Farm Radio Weekly Archive » Notes to broadcasters: Drought and drought-tolerance Says:

    […] Tanzanian authorities tried to encourage drought-stricken farmers to grow sorghum, millet and cassava. Notes to broadcasters on sorghum and millet were produced recently (issue #245, May 2013) and can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/05/06/notes-to-broadcasters-sorghum-and-millet/ […]

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