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Two firms invest in sweet sorghum

Published on 3 March, 2010, Last updated at 01:42 GMT
Two firms invest in sweet sorghum

Philippines - Sweet Sorgum's potential as a viable source of food, fuel, feed and fertilizer is expected to be tapped further as two local agribusiness companies have started investing in this versatile crop. The companies are expected to commercially produce sweet sorghum products in the next two to three years, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Hazchem and Venvi Agro industrial Ventures Inc. have established their respective plantations and infrastructures to develop sweet sorghum for commercial uses, according to the DA's Bureau of Agricultural Research which has funded nine multi-locational trials of sweet sorghum with financial support of local government units (LGUs).

Dr. Heraldo Layaoen who is the national program coordinator for the DA-BAR sweet sorghum project reported to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap that these agribusiness companies have begun using sweet sorghum as feed ingredient and are now testing it as feedstock for ethanol production.

Layaoen said that Hazchem has set up a 5.4-hectare plantation in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro and acquired a juice concentrator, mobile cane crusher and fermentation tanks for the conduct of trials on sweet sorghum from planting to distillation.

On the other hand, Venvi Agro, which operates the biggest feedmill and is the largest supplier of fresh eggs in the Ilocos Region, is also testing sweet sorghum as a livestock and poultry feed ingredient.
Meanwhile, the DA and Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) have launched a book on the human food potentials of sweet sorghum as part of government efforts to promote the production and consumption of alternative high-value commercial crops.

The BAR-funded "Sweet Sorghum Food Products: A Compendium" was written by three PAC professors - Drs. Estrella Zabala, Zosimo Battad and Norman de Jesus - and officially launched during a recent BAR program.

BAR Director Nicomedes Eleazar said the book contains food products from the sweet sorghum grains and stalks highlighting food products from sweet sorghum, of which 24 come from grains and one from the stalk.

The book also includes valuable information such as guide in planting sweet sorghum, forms of utilization, nutritional contents, and suggested sweet sorghum menu.

"Sweet sorghum is a promising cereal crop that could address problems on malnutrition and dwindling supply of alternative sources of flour, an answer to the increasing cost of wheat flour," Eleazar added. Sorghum grains are processed into flour and used as a substitute or main material of food products either as a whole grain, sprout or in ground form.

Zabala, a food technologist, developed the various food products from sweet sorghum with Battad and de Jesus providing technical support.

Among the potential food products developed include soups and porridge (mushroom in sorghum soup, sorghum soup, veggie-sorghum soup, sorghum porridge with chicken, sorghum porridge, sorghum-choco porridge, pepper leaves in sorghum, and sorghum con moringa).

PAC President Honorio Soriano said that "sweet sorghum has a huge potential as source of human food in various forms of high commercialization value. Its grains can be processed and used as alternative to rice." Aside from the grains, PAC has developed vinegar from the juice of sweet sorghum stalks.

He said that "sweet sorghum can be grown throughout the year or at least twice a year in shorter time and requires minimal production cost compared to other field crops. It is the only crop that provides grain and stem, which can be used to produce ethanol, sugar syrup, jaggery, flour and other food items."

Sweet sorghum is higher in protein and lower in fat than corn. The mineral composition differs only slightly from corn and vitamin content is similar to that of white corn. Two hundred grams of cooked sorghum grains is a rich source of protein, vitamins B1, B2, niacin and iron; it is a good source of zinc, and provides 14 grams of dietary fiber.


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