The Department of Agriculture Bicol is now promoting Grain Sorghum Production as additional commodity under the  National Sorghum Development Program   to respond to the global demand for the said crop as livestock feed and substitute for domestically grown corn .  The program kicked off with a two day  training on Grain Sorghum Production  recently at the DA conference room and  barangay San Felipe Naga City. The  activity aimed  to re- introduce grain sorghum to local farmers in the region through individual co-operators in each province. Selected sites include Camarines Sur and Masbate.

Sorghum is a versatile crop that can be grown as a grain, forage or sweet crop and considered as the top five cereal crops in the world. It is also used to produce a wide range of food products like bread, pancakes, gruels, rice-like product, beers and can also be used as feed supplement. Under the National Sorghum Development Project, all Regional Field Offices were directed to establish pilot farms to serve as learning sites for other  farmers  who would like to participate in the program

According to Rodel Tornilla, Regional Technical Director for Operations, sorghum can be a reliable source of food, feed, fuel and fertilizer. He challenged   the more than  20 key players to promote the emerging commodity and  ensure acceptability of sorghum to farmers. “ We cannot promote the said crop without assured market. We need a multi-stakeholders approach from the input supplier, farmer producers, marketers/traders and end-users to ensure sustainability of sorghum production” he said.

Dean Medrano, Assistant Regional Corn Program Coordinator related that one million hectares is being targeted for sorghum production for the next three years to hit the 10-M metric tons of feed grains to support the growing livestock and poultry industry.

Rudy Dean  of Allied Botanicals Corporation served as speaker during the training. He explained that the best time to plant is from December to March and is suitable to   rain-fed and arid areas. He stressed that this will not compete with the existing corn areas. “ The crop is ready for harvest from 100-105 days after planting. Second cropping can be done thru ratooning without sacrificing the yield.” He said. Through the coordination and efforts of the Corn Program staff, an actual demonstration was conducted on the second day at Dr. Rufo Llorin’s farm (farmer/co-operator) in barangay San Felipe, Naga City. Participants along with hired field workers tried their hands in the planting of  sorghum. Application of fertilizer (14-14-14) was also demonstrated. (B. Nunez with Sandy Bobier)