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  • Context (DTE): Sweet sorghum, indigenous to Africa, is a promising biofuel crop.

Biofuel Crops

  • They are rich in starch, sugar, or oils. It can be converted into bioethanol (fermentation process).
  • Common biofuel crops: Sugarcane, maize, grain sorghum, sugar beet, rapeseeds, and sunflower.

Drawbacks of Conventional Biofuel Crops

  • Susceptible to extreme weather events.
  • Require high investment for fertilisers, chemicals, and irrigation.
  • Compete with food production.

Potential of Sweet Sorghum

  • It contains sucrose, glucose and fructose, which are essential for bioethanol production.
  • Multiple uses
    • It can produce grains, animal feed and sugary juice, making it unique among crops.
    • Grains are used for Steamed bread, Porridge malt for traditional commercial beer production.
    • They’re nutritionally rich, with high energy values, as well as essential minerals.
  • Advantages Over Maize
    • Resilient in arid climates.
    • Provides biomass for animal feed. Nutritional residue after harvest enhances animal diets.
    • Yields 8,102 litres of bioethanol per hectare (vs. maize’s 4,209 litres).
  • Resilience
    • Drought-resistant: can enter dormancy and resume growth.
    • Uses stalk juice to survive water scarcity.
    • Tolerates low water, nitrogen inputs, salinity, and drought.

To learn more, visit Biofuels.

Sweet Sorghum (Jowar)

  • It is the most important millet crop.
  • It is a C4 plant characterised by high photosynthetic efficiency.
    • C4 plants include maize, sugarcane, and sorghum. They avoid photorespiration.
  • It has emerged as a supplementary crop to sugarcane in dry land pockets for the production of ethanol.
  • Varieties Rio, Dale, Brandes, Theis, Roma, Vani, Ramada and Keller.
  • In India, it can be sown during June, coinciding with the southwest monsoon.
  • The crop does not prefer high rainfall as high soil moisture after flowering may hamper sugar increase.
  • All soils that have medium depth with good drainage are suited.
  • Major pests: Sorghum shootfly and stem borer.
  • Sweet sorghum varieties were first introduced in India from the US in the 1970s. Jowar or Sorghum Agronomy

Credit: Agrosiaa

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