Sorghum is a multi-purpose crop, high in fibre, which can help achieve recommended dietary requirements. Sorghum has an impressively diverse set of uses. It is mainly grown as livestock feed for various animals. They are an important source of food and fodder, especially in the hot and dry areas of the country. This multi-purpose crop is said to be incorporated into the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cooperation framework, adding another layer of guarantee to the food security of China and Pakistan.
In environmental conditions that are too harsh for other cereals to produce grains, sorghum is a viable choice. As a tropical plant, it has remarkable adaptability to various climates and soils except for saline and waterlogged soil and can withstand heat and drought stress better than maize.
Bilateral cooperation in sorghum has already been underway. In 2020-21, they have planted five varieties of Shanxi sorghum in Pakistan for trial, which will continue in the coming year. In 2020-21, ten sorghum varieties were planted as a trial in Pakistan and achieved preliminary results, of which five varieties performed better.
‘’Pakistan and Xinjiang both enjoyed sufficient sunlight and heat, so forage sorghum will bring considerable economic value,” proposed Ping Junai, Researcher of the Sorghum Research Institute of Shanxi Agricultural University, “In China, farmers directly throw the harvested forage sorghum plants into fish ponds, or process them to feed poultry such as ducks and geese, which has achieved considerable results.”
In Pakistan, the area under sorghum and millet on the average is 1.5 million hectares. Punjab and Sindh are the major sorghum-producing provinces, contributing respectively 47% and 26% of the total. They can become the focal areas of bilateral sorghum cooperation.
“If Pakistan and China join hands in various research, demonstration cultivation, talent training, and technical guidance, we can provide nutritious food for Pakistani people and quality of forage for Pakistani animal husbandry,” proposed Ping Junai of the Sorghum Research Institute of Shanxi Agricultural University.
At present, the blueprint of China-Pakistan sorghum cooperation has drawn a strong first stroke, by training sorghum plantation to Pakistani students. People engaged in agricultural science often say that seeds are the chips of agriculture, let’s hope China-Pakistan sorghum cooperation bear fruit for both countries.