Sorghum is an important world crop, used for food, fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought and heat-tolerant, and are especially grown in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of pastures in many tropical regions. Sorghum is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world.


Varieties Serena (Brown grained and highly adaptive)

Seredo (Brown grained and resistant to Striga)

KARI/Mtama1 (white grained and torelant to stem borer. Also highly adaptive)

Gadam (Grey grained. Resistant to birds, tolerant to stem borers, shoot fly and foliar diseases)

E 1291, E 6518, BJ28 are for high altitude

Seed Rate Plant 2-4 kg/ha in very dry areas to 10-15 kg/ha under irrigation
Fertilizer Rate Apply 20kg per hectare at planting Or 10 tons per ha of manure ( alternative to fertilizer)

Top Dress with 20kg per hectare

Planting Spacing Make rows of 50-75cm apart.  Thinning done 2 weeks after germination to a spacing of 1 cm from plant to plant. Maximum plant population of 120 000 plants per hectare
Husbandry Dry planting is highly recommended. Intercropping with legumes is recommended with grain legumes such as beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas and green gram. Manure and compost improve organic matter content of the soil, soil moisture retention ability and soil structure. Manure can be broad cast in the field or applied in planting furrows and mixed with soil before seeds are planted. Weeding and thinning is done within 2 weeks after emergence and when the soil is moist.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
  Stalk borer Stunted growth.

Windowing of leaves

Withered shoots

Poorly developed heads

Removal of crop residues

Early planting

Use of pesticide like Sumithion Dipterex

  Shoot fly Withered shoots

Stunted plants

Early planting

Use of insecticide when attacked

  Maize tassel beetle Insect feed on developing seed leading to non setting Spray with insecticides like Malathion or Fernitrotion
  Striga weed Purple flowered weed

Stunting of crop

Uprooting the striga weed.

Use farm yard manure and fertilizer.

Use striga-resistant varieties like KSTP 94 maize

Expected Duration from Planting to Harvesting Low Altitutes: 3-5 months

High Altitudes: 7-8 months

Climatic Conditions Sorghum is highly adaptive to drought and tolerates water logging. Its grown in hot, semi-arid tropical environments with rainfall from 250 mm that are too dry for maize but performs best with more than 900 mm annually. It is also grown in altitudes of up to 2500 m. Sorghum is killed by frost.

It is well suited to heavy clay soils (vertisols) found commonly in the tropics, but is equally suited to light sandy soils. It tolerates a range of soil Ph from 5-8.5 and is more tolerant to salinity than maize.

Harvesting Sorghum is usually harvested by hand when grain is hard and does not produce milk when crushed. Cut the heads with sickles or a sharp knife from plants in the field
Post Harvest and Storage Sun dry the harvested panicles to a moisture level of 12-13 % and thresh and store the grain.
Growing Regions Kenya: Lamu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa, Nakuru, Baringo, Laikipia, Naivasha, Narok, Koibatek, Taita Taveta, Machachos, Kitui, Makueni, Mwingi, Lower Embu and Tharaka Nithi, Kajiado, Busia, Siaya, Kakamega, Kisumu, Homabay, Kuria, Migori, Meru, Embu and Nyeri.

Tanzania: Dodoma, Mwanza, Shinyaga, and Singida

Uganda: The hotter areas of Uganda

Expected yields Up to 25-35 90 kgs bags per hectare depending on variety and conditions


Processing Sorghum is mostly processed into Flour for human consumption

It’s also used in brewing


Place Sorghum is usually consumed locally. There are intermediaries that buy at farm gate and markets and sell to millers and other retailers.
Price The price varies between Kshs. 2500 to and kshs 4500 per 90 kg bag. It all depends on the season, region and its availability.


Products / By Products Sorghum is mostly milled into Flour and used as food.

Its also used to make alcoholic beverages

Biofuel – Its also used to produce ethanol, a bio fuel.

Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Energy 339 / 17%; Carbohydrates 74.6 / 25%; Fat 3.3 / 5%; Protein 11.3 / 23%; Calcium 28.0 / 3%; Phosphorus 287 / 29%; Iron 4.4 / 24%; Pottasium 350 / 10%; Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.2 / 16%; Riboflavin 0.1 / 8%;


Sorghum production in Kenya in 2011 was 200,000 Metric tons while in 1976 it was 223,000 MT hence no growth in the crop.


Income Per Hectare: Kshs 62,500 (25 bags * 2500/-)

Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 15,000 (25% of Income)

NET:    Kshs. 46,500 (75% of Income)

Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 6 bags per hectare.

Income Frequency: Twice per year.

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