SORGHUM (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Agriculture)

News-CRUX-10     5th August 2023        

Context: New sorghum varieties developed by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help meet the nutritional needs of mothers and children in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new study.

Key Points

  • The results of the research are critical as sorghum is a significant crop cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa, with 300 million people depending on it.
  • Though sorghum provides many dietary benefits, as it is high in protein, fibre, vitamin B and some micronutrients, it lacks sufficient vitamin A precursors and key minerals such as iron and zinc, like many other cereal grains. 
  • The new varieties are enhanced with both provitamin A and non-provitamin A carotenoids. 
  • These varieties also contain a more efficient phytase enzyme, a protein that breaks down phytic acid. 
  • This improves the absorption of nutrients from the diet.


  • Sorghum, also called great millet, Indian millet, is cereal grain plant of the grass family (Poaceae) and its edible starchy seeds. Sorghum plants are very hardy and can withstand high temperature and drought conditions.
  • The plant originated in Africa, where it is a major food crop. The variety of the crop found in India is called jowar that originated here.
  • The grain is popular across the world because it has a low glycaemic index, is gluten-free and nutritious.
  • The lower the glycemic index of a cereal, the lower is the relative rise in blood glucose level after two hours of consuming it.
  • The key varieties of millets include Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Ragi, Small Millet, Foxtail Millet, Barnyard Millet, Kodo Millet and others.
  • Jowar has a dedicated All-India Coordinated Research Project since 1969.