Sorghum Interest in the Philippines

As sorghum gains popularity around the world, the Philippines has added themselves to the list of countries that have taken interest.

Written by: Alyssa Soles

As sorghum gains popularity around the world, the Philippines has added themselves to the list of countries that have taken interest. A group of Philippine government representatives, including the Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and National Sorghum Program Coordinator Lorenzo Caranguian, visited the United States to learn more about the sorghum industry.

The group met with National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust and Sorghum Checkoff Director of Agronomy Brent Bean Ph.D., to discuss various aspects of sorghum. The discussions included topics ranging from production, processing, use, industry organization, government programs and industry challenges.

The group was seeking NSP’s advice in order to prepare farmers in the Philippines.

“We are actively interested in the adaptability of the crop to our climate,” Agriculture Secretary Piñol said. “We want to be educated so we can start this crop right.”

Feed grain and silage are the main focus for bringing sorghum into the Philippines. Their poultry and livestock industries have grown and created more demand. In 2018, the Philippines Department of Agriculture started increasing sorghum production by allocating 100,000 hectares of land to support the country’s growing poultry and livestock industries.

In addition to serving as the Department of Agriculture Secretary, Piñol was previously the governor of Cotabato and is a farmer and goat breeder. He uses sorghum silage on his operation. He said corn has been their main source of animal feed, but it has not been performing to the level they need to satisfy demand.

“One of the reasons we are so excited about sorghum is because the price of corn, especially GMO [corn], is too expensive for our farmers – they are barely making a profit,” Piñol said. “We are now looking at sorghum for our corn.”

Besides using sorghum to meet the demand of the poultry and livestock industries, he said the crop will also be used to provide food supply to the people of the Philippines. He said the indigenous people were granted wide open areas of land like the Native Americans in the U.S. and explained how sorghum suits the region well because it does not require tillage and can be harvested by hand.

“The number one intention with bringing sorghum to the Philippines is to provide them food – it has been a great source of protein for people on the countryside,” Piñol said. “Sorghum wasn’t given much attention in the past, but we’re very serious about our desire to develop our sorghum industry.”

Lust explained the benefits of sorghum include the crop requiring less water than other crops, and sorghum can handle waterlogging longer than some crops, which would be ideal in the Philippines during typhoon season if crops are not harvested in time.

Lust also touched on some of the equipment used for sorghum as the process will look different in the Philippines. He referred to some of the same equipment used for traditional crops grown in the Philippines and how in U.S. locations like South Texas, rice and sorghum headers for combines are used interchangeably.

Lust concluded his advice by saying that an industry takes decades to build and sustain, so it is important to be patient and to provide farmers with the resources necessary to succeed.