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Improve sorghum yield

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Registrar of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University P. Subbian (second right) with a book on sorghum released at the Annual Group Meeting on the sorghum project at the university in Coimbatore.
Registrar of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University P. Subbian (second right) with a book on sorghum released at the Annual Group Meeting on the sorghum project at the university in Coimbatore.

Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: Though sorghum is the third most important cereal crop after rice and wheat in India, its role in meeting fodder and feed requirements of cattle and poultry is better recognised, P. Subbian, Registrar, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), said here on Sunday.

Inaugurating an Annual Group Meeting of the All India Co-ordinated Sorghum Improvement Project at the university, he said realising the increasing requirement for fodder and feed, there was an urgent need for initiating research to improve quality and yield of sorghum for forage. The sustainability of sorghum yield was constrained due to frequent drought spells, the Registrar said it was necessary to increase drought tolerance to make it valuable to India in the context of global warming. “Since these grains are prone to quality deterioration during storage, processing technologies and storage facilities should be developed in association with private industries.”

Mr. Subbian said there was immense scope for commercial ethanol production from sweet sorghum. Compared to sugarcane, sorghum required less than 50 per cent of water and fertilizers and could be produced on degraded land. Research had to be intensified for developing early maturing sweet sorghum varieties with high green cane yield and sugar content, he added.

S.N. Shukla, former Assistant Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, suggested that to arrest the declining demand for sorghum in the country, it was necessary to create a viable market for sorghum through technologies enhancing its alternative uses. This would help in economical production of value-added products and more profitability for farmers. “To enable sorghum regain its original position, it is necessary to change Governmental policies, include it in the public distribution system, establish linkages with industries to produce value-added products, and also make it part of the ‘national food security mission,” Mr. Shukla said.

N. Seetharama, Director, Directorate of Sorghum Research, Hyderabad, M. Paramathma, Director of Research, and K. Thiyagarajan, Director, Centre for Plant Breeding and Genetics, of TNAU, spoke.

Three books and a short film on “Bio-ethanol Production from Sweet Sorghum” were released.

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