PanAAC Farmer Contracting Sorgum Project in Kenya
One of the major roles of PanAAC is developing reliable markets for agricultural products. The organization works to strengthen farmer to buyer relationship by either linking the farmer directly to the markets or by developing a mechanism to guarantee payments for products delivered. In this, PanAAC ensures that the products are grown in the best agricultural practices while guaranteeing a premium markets for their products.
What is Sorghum
Sorghum is an important crop in harnessing food security and uplifting livelihoods.
Sorghum originated in Africa, particularly the Sudan region of the Horn of Africa. Today, grain sorghum is the fifth most important cereal in the world. In Kenya, it is grown on about 171,000ha across the country. Due to its wide adaptation, it is grown in most parts of the country especially the semi areas regions. Nyanza Province leads in production, followed by Western and Eastern in that order. Other areas are in North Rift valley, Coast, North Eastern and Central provinces. Sorghum is used for food, fodder, Starch extraction and production of alcoholic beverages.
Because of its superior drought tolerance, better economic returns may be expected from grain sorghum than from maize in marginal and arid areas. As rainfall reliability and distribution become more and more challenging, sorghum can be an alternative cash crop in dry lands of Kenya.
Grain sorghum has the ability to “mark time” during a period of stress (developmental elasticity). In this way moisture uptake is reduced and physiological development is delayed. After good rains the crop recovers rapidly and development is resumed. If the main stem has been severely damaged by stress, the plant will compensate by ratooning producing factional tillers.
The stems and leaves of sorghum are covered with a waxy layer and have a corky cuticle which helps reduce water loss thereby withstanding desiccation during periods of low soil moisture.
Leaves have the ability to roll thereby reducing surface area effectively slowing down transpiration rate.
The sorghum rooting system is more dense and continuously growing (regenerative) during the crop growing period making it more effective in exploring for soil moisture even under low soil moisture pressures compared to that of most cereals and especially maize.
Compared to maize, sorghum plant has a smaller leaf area, heavy and waxy cuticles covers the leaves surface making them better adapted to high temperatures and effective in controlling transpiration during warm conditions. Furthermore, sorghum is a more effective translocator of nutrients from source (leaves) to sink (panicle) during grain filling stage 4 under stress condition compared to most cereals making it more tolerant to post flowering stress.
Grain sorghum has the ability to compensate by producing effective tillers in the event of damage to main plant and also by producing larger panicles in case of low plants population or improved production conditions.