Commercialization Prospects for Sorghum and Pearl Millet in Tanzania
D D Rohrbach and J A B Kiriwaggulu
Tanzania produces over 500,000 t of sorghum and 200,000 t of pearl millet per year. Yet virtually the entire production is subsistence – oriented. The lack of a commercial market has limited farmer interest in improving crop management, and average sorghum and pearl millet yields have changed little over the past 15 years. This report analyses the prospects for expanding commercial utilization of these crops. On the basis of a utilization survey, a review of price data, and discussions with industry representatives, it appears that the best opportunity for expanding the use of sorghum is in the opaque beer brewing industry. A target of 75% substitution over the next 5 years would create a demand for 1800t per year of high quality white sorghum.
According to industry representatives, the main constraint limiting the use of sorghum and pearl millet in animal feeds is relative grain price. If sorghum is available at competitive prices, 5 years from now it would account for at least 5% of the grain used by the industry, or 5000t per year. The potential size of market for milled sorghum and pearl millet meal is difficult to estimate, because of uncertainty about the strength of consumer preferences for alternative grains. Nonetheless, the milling industry can set a target of replacing perhaps 5% of the maize sold in Dares Salaam with sorghum meal, generating a demand for more than 20,000 t of grain per year.
The prospects for pearl millet are less favorable than for sorghum given its generally higher price and lower yields and labor productivity. However, there may be a small market niche for pearl millet based meals, particularly in communities drawn from pearl millet production zones. The milling industry could test this market with an initial throughput of 500 to 1000 t of pearl millet grain per year.