Industry Insights

Nigeria’s Sorghum Boom: From Local Fields to Global Breweries

Nigeria is on the cusp of a sorghum surge, with yearly production set to surpass seven million tonnes. This uptrend is steered by collaborative efforts between the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) of Ahmadu Bello University and brewery stakeholders aiming to bolster cultivation and consequently conserve foreign exchange.

Given sorghum’s emergence as a linchpin in a multi-billion dollar market for global beer manufacturing, the drive for its increased cultivation has intensified. As per Statista’s recent figures, Nigeria’s sorghum output hovered around seven million metric tonnes.

Prof Mohammad Faguji Ishiyaku, Executive Director of IAR, shared that the institute’s new varieties have supercharged yields. Farmers can now expect an impressive 1.3 tonnes per hectare, a significant leap from the previous 500 kilograms. Key among these varieties are the early maturing cultivars: SAMSORG 52, SAMSORG 53, and SAMSORG 54.

Biofortified sorghum varieties, currently under IAR’s development radar, promise even greater yields. As Ishiyaku highlighted, sorghum’s versatility across multiple industries, notably beer and animal feed, has spurred investment in its production.

Earlier this year, Mr Hans Essaadi, the head honcho at Nigerian Breweries Plc., underscored the company’s commitment to augment local sourcing, supporting Nigeria’s agrarian development. Collaborations with research institutions, both local and global, are afoot to elevate the quality and yield of local sorghum varieties.

In a strategic move, the African Development Bank (AfDB) allocated $134 million to Nigeria, earmarked for producing key crops, including sorghum. As disclosed by Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, these funds will be deployed through the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro Pocket (NAGSAP).

Alhaji Lawal Gada, President of Sorghum Farmers Association of Nigeria (SOFAN), noted Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in sorghum and its burgeoning exports to neighboring nations.

However, with vast cultivable lands at its disposal, analysts believe Nigeria’s annual sorghum yield could touch 13.5 million tonnes. In sync with this vision, the National Association of Sorghum Producers, Processors and Marketers of Nigeria (NASPPAM) is rallying 400,000 farmers for wet season sorghum farming, targeting cultivation across two million hectares.