Duration: Each year
Industrial Potential of Sorghum
Sorghum is an energy-rich staple with important nutrition benefits. It is gluten-free and contains essential minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. In Ghana, the milled grain is used to prepare a traditional porridge (tuo-zaafi). Sorghum brewing to produce a traditional beer (pito) is an important cottage industry in Northern Ghana. The formal brewery industry in the country is aiming, in the long-term, to replace imported barley malt with domestic sorghum malt in producing established brands of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, thereby reducing demand for foreign exchange without compromising on the quality of their products.
Sorghum Value Chain
Sorghum in Ghana is important for both food security and as a source of income for households. It is mainly grown by smallholder farmers (SHF), the majority of whom commit
less than 2 ha of their cultivated land to its production.The crop has been prioritised by Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) because it is drought tolerant and can withstand high temperatures. Sorghum remains important for food security in Northern Ghana despite being overtaken in recent times by maize and rice as the lead staple foods. Its potential as an industrial crop is also rising due to its use as a substitute for imported barley by the formal brewing industry in the country.
Sorghum Production Trend and Crop Performance
Sorghum production is mainly concentrated in Northern Ghana. Between 1960 to 1990, production increased continuously, peaking at over 387,000 t in 1998. Since then, growth in sorghum output has trended downwards, falling to 278,000 t in 2018. Though it is perceived as a food security crop, sorghum prices have consistently been higher than maize since 2008. In 2010, for instance, maize was about 25% cheaper than sorghum whilst in 2017 it was close to 35% cheaper. This may be one of the reasons why maize is overtaking sorghum in terms of relative importance in the food systems in Northern Ghana. Among the key factors affecting the Sorghum VC performance is the low average yield, between 0.5 to 1.2 t per ha in the country. This is mainly due to the fact that most SHF cultivate indigenous varieties with inherent low yield potential and scarcely apply yield-enhancing inputs such as fertiliser. When they practice traditional mixed cropping systems, the plant density tends to be low. In comparison, the average yield for sorghum is substantially higher in Botswana (about 5 t/ha) as well as in Ethiopia and Uganda (about 2 t/ha). Nevertheless, evidence shows that when farmers apply inputs, even at lower levels, the impact on yield is substantial.
How Sorghum contributes to Ghana's economy
In 2018, the Sorghum value chain generated a total value added (VA) estimated at €188 million and represents 0.3% of Ghana’s GDP and almost 2% of agricultural GDP. The contribution to total VA by sorghum processors is 42%; whilst suppliers of goods and services (e.g. fuelwood, brewing ingredients, transport, ploughing services, and packaging)
contribute about 32%. Farmers account for 18% and the remaining 8% is contributed by grain traders.
The VC is a net contributor to public finances, providing about €29 million per year in the form of taxes and local council levies. The bulk of the tax revenue is contributed by
About €36 million is spent on imported goods and services oods and services (30%). This contribution is net of the subsidies distributed via the PFJ, which are estimated at €1.2 million.
About €36 million is spent on imported goods and services within the VC and only small volumes of sorghum grain are reportedly exported into regional markets, so the contribution of the VC to the balance of trade is negative. Nevertheless, the VC distributes incomes into
the national economy as the rate of integration is 78% (share of total VA in the value of production). Moreover, the use of sorghum grain as a local raw material in the industrial
brewery is saving about €6.6 million in imports of malt barley.