Food & Fuel: Can Sorghum Be The New Magic Bullet Biofuel??

By Stephen Leahy

Korcula, CROATIA, May 13 (IPS) –

A new crop that provides food, animal feed and fuel at the same time promises to help developing countries redirect money spent on oil imports to benefit their own farmers. Is sweet sorghum biofuel’s “holy grail”?

Biofuels are widely blamed for driving food prices higher, sparking food riots in many countries. At least 25 percent of the U.S. maize crop is diverted to biofuel, and extensive areas in Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Brazil are also devoted to growing fuel rather than food.

With sweet sorghum, however, only the stalks are used for biofuel production, while the grain is saved for food or livestock feed. It is not in high demand in the global food market, and thus has little impact on food prices and food security.

“We consider sweet sorghum an ideal ‘smart crop’ because it produces food as well as fuel,” said William Dar, director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Continue reading