The impact of climate change, which has brought about conditions such as high temperatures and drought, continues to have an increasingly negative impact on food security in Africa and the rest of the world. In response, scientists have started looking into the potential of sorghum to contribute to food and nutrition security.
Among major grains such as maize, rice and wheat, sorghum is a model species as it is the most drought and heat-tolerant and is suitable for growing under difficult conditions. That’s according to Professor Gebisa Ejeta, who delivered a lecture on the importance of sorghum for Africa’s development at the NRF Science for Society lecture on Sorghum for Food and Nutrition Security in Southern Africa, held on 10 April 2018 in Cape Town.
Sorghum is a staple food for about 500 million people in more than 30 countries and, unfortunately, it has received little attention in comparison to other crops over the years. Prof Ejeta highlighted that, with more investments and cutting edge research, sorghum can help to transform agriculture in Africa and address the needs of its people.
The lecture was followed by a presentation from Professor Riette De Kock, Associate Professor of Sensory Science at the University of Pretoria, who discussed the various uses of sorghum as a beverage and food and its unique properties as a healthy and nutrition dense food.
According to Prof De Kock, in South Africa, sorghum also known as “Mabele”, is used for porridge, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks among others. However, it is not currently used to its full potential in developing new products such as convenience foods where it has the unique ability to enhance their nutritional value.
The lecture was concluded with a captivating panel discussion that brought to the fore the call for investment in education and infrastructure in order to create science advancements that can be used to empower the people of Africa through agriculture. Click here to listen to a podcast of the panel discussion.
This NRF Science for Society lecture formed part of the Sorghum in the 21st Century Conference that took place in Century City Convention Centre, Cape Town from 9-12 April 2018. It was in collaboration with the University of Pretoria through the Sorghum and Millets Innovation Lab (SMIL) which is part of the USAID's Feed the Future Initiative.
For more on the lecture, listen to interviews of Prof Gebisa Ejeta, Prof Riette De Kock and panellist Prof Gyebi Duodu, Associate Professor of African Grains and Food Bioactives, University of Pretoria.