Sorghum is an annual or perennial grass that grows usually 1 to 2 meters high. It produces grains of various colors, including white, red, and dark brown. Numerous varieties exist. "The Ng'ikebootok of southern Turkana, for example, keep up to 15 types, probably representing all races, all with distinct vernacular names."
Cultivation in Kenya
Sorghum is grown in most parts of Kenya, particularly in Nyanza and Western provinces, and usually at altitudes below 2400m above sea level. It is a traditional grain crop of most communities in Kenya, and the grain and flour are sold all over the country.
- "The grain is ground into flour and used for making porridge and ugali. Used a great deal by the Luo, Turkana, Tharaka, Taveta, Tugen, Marakwet, Elgeyo, Teso, Luhya, Kisii, Kamba, Kikuyu, Embu, and Mijikenda (Giriama, Digo, Duruma, Rabai, Ribe, Kambe, Jibana, Chonyi, Kauma) groups. Among the Luo, Teso and Luhya, the grain may be mixed with dried cassava and ground into flour. Flour may often be mixed with maize or finger millet four. The brown husks of sorghum, chung'bel, are used for making tea (Luo). The flour is used for making traditional beer (Teso, Luo). Fresh grain of some sweet cultivars is eaten. Bitter cultivars are preferred where bird attack is a problem. The stems of some cultivars are sweet and chewed like sugarcane."
Sorghum is grown from seed in Kenya. It takes 3-4 months to grow to maturity, although there are some quicker maturing varieties now available. Some varieties will provide second or even third crops by cutting off mature stems. The second crop may be as good or even better than the first, "but the third is always much less."
Names in Various Languages
In Kenya, sorghum has names in many different languages:
- Kisii: amaemba
- Luhya (Isukha): mavele
- Luhya (Kisa): amabere
- Luhya (Marachi): mabere, mavere
- Luhya (Maragoli): mabere, mavere
- Luhya (Bukusu): liemba, kamaemba
- Luhya (Tachoni): amabele, kamaemba
- Luhya (Samia): amabele
- Luo: bel
- Borana: misinga
- Somali: gidami
- Swahili: mtama
Resources and articles
Related Sourcewatch articles
- [Patrick M. Maundu, Grace W. Ngugi, and Christine H.S. Kabuye, Traditional Food Plants of Kenya, Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, 1999, p. 212.
- Sally L. Dillon, Frances M. Shapter, Robert J. Henry, Giovanni Cordeiro, Liz Izquierdo, and L. Slade Lee, "Domestication to Crop Improvement: Genetic Resources for Sorghum and Saccharum (Andropogoneae)," Annals of Botany, Volume 100, Issue 5, Pp. 975-989, July 24, 2007.
- [Patrick M. Maundu, Grace W. Ngugi, and Christine H.S. Kabuye, Traditional Food Plants of Kenya, Kenya Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, 1999, p. 213.
- "The Domestication of Sorghum," Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog, January 13, 2009.
- J. M. J. De Wet and J. R. Harlan, "The origin and domestication of Sorghum bicolor," Economic Botany, Volume 25, Number 2, 128-135, DOI: 10.1007/BF02860074.</ref>
- "Cereal Domestication in Africa."
- "Sorghum Information," Gramene.org.
- E T Rampho, "Sorghum bicolor." PlantZAfrica, January 2005.