By Rufas Chege
Sorghum farming in Kenya is an important agricultural activity in the economy.
Sorghum is grown in western, northern Rift Valley, eastern and some parts of Central Province. The crop is fairly drought resistant and thus it is quite popular in drier areas of the Kenya.
It is also resistant to water logging and yields reasonably well on infertile soils. It can be rationed.
Sorghum grains are ground for flour, which is used for making porridge, ugali or for brewing. Young growing crop may be used as fodder by feeding it to animals directly after wilting for sometime or making silage.
Ecological Requirements for Sorghum Farming in Kenya are as follows ,Sorghum has a well developed rooting system and an ability to roll up its leaves during hot weather. These qualities make the crop drought resistant.
Rainfall of 420 mm — 630 mm per annum is adequate for good growth and production, hence the crop grows well in areas below 1500 m above sea level.
At higher altitudes, poor yields are obtained and the crop is attacked by pests such as shoot fly and downy mildew disease. The crop requires fairly fertile and well drained soils.
Sorghum varieties are characterised by seed colour and taste. In this connection, there are varieties which are white in colour and palatable and those that are brown or red and are bitter. There are two notably improved varieties grown in Kenya, these are.
This variety was selected in western Kenya and is suitable for all the areas around the shores of Lake Victoria. Its seeds are brown and matures in about four months.
This variety was selected after crossing dobbs with a variety from Swaziland. It has brown seeds and matures in about 3% months. There are other varieties being developed by Research Stations.
The research is based on characteristics such as taste, disease and pest resistance and yields. Varieties with compact panicles and goose neck have some resistance to birds’ damage.