Sorghum II

Lead Organization:

Rongo University

Partner Organizations:

Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization - Katumani, University of Eldoret, National Arid & Semi-arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI)

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa


Kenya and Uganda




This project uses sorghum as a catalyst for agroecological intensification through improving crop and livestock productivity for enhanced food and nutritional security among communities in Kenya and Uganda. The project will increase smallholder farmers’ access to improved sorghum varieties, develop resilient sorghum systems through legume integration, work with farmers to develop agronomic practices to improve sorghum productivity, promote alternative uses of sorghum, and build capacity amongst stakeholders for an enhanced sorghum value chain.  Creating sustainable seed sources for the sorghum varieties developed in previous phases is essential in order to reach a wider clientele. It will engage with farmers and local development organizations to research more agroecological intensification approaches to soil fertility management, such as integrating sorghum production with food legumes or farmers’ livestock production, micro-dosing of fertilizers, and diversifying sorghum uses to enhance household nutrition and spur additional market opportunities for the crop. Mentoring the next generation of scientists is also an important part of this project.

Grant Aims:

Sorghum is an important food security crop in low rainfall areas of eastern Africa. It is gluten-free and rich in mineral nutrients and dietary fiber. Previous McKnight-funded work by the team has led to the development of superior sorghum cultivars that are early maturing and tolerant of multiple stresses, including drought, Striga (a parasitic weed) and aluminum toxicity (a soil chemical condition that is otherwise very detrimental to plant root development). During the last phase, the team undertook participatory varietal selection with smallholder farmers in Western and Eastern Kenya and Eastern Uganda. They also demonstrated improved agronomic practices and worked on product development. Farmers who were involved in evaluating the new cultivars were very enthusiastic about a number of them. This phase will focus on supporting the development of viable local seed systems to make the seed of preferred varieties more widely accessible to sorghum farmers in the target areas. In addition, it will engage with farmers and local development organizations to conduct research on legume integration and a wider variety of soil fertility management and value addition options to enhance the productivity, profitability and sustainability of sorghum producing communities in Kenya and Uganda.

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Access to seeds of superior varieties achieved through a formalized and well-defined sorghum seed system
  • Establishment of sustainable and acceptable sorghum-legume inter crop system for various agro-ecological zones
  • Best fit acid soils management strategies and agronomic practices promoted among farmers
  • Value-added sorghum products developed and promoted
  • Capacity of farmers, postgraduate scientists and other stakeholders in sorghum value chain activities enhanced


  • Adoption of high yielding varieties, enhanced sorghum productivity hence improved food and nutrition security and income from sale of surplus
  • Improved sustainable land-use practice and household food and nutrition security.
  • Better soil and crop management resulting in higher yields and improved household food and nutrition security
  • Enhanced consumption of sorghum products. Increased availability and marketing of various value-added products spurring sorghum food and feed markets while diversifying marketing channels
  • Enlightened stakeholders, increased critical number of scientists in sorghum research, enhanced sorghum productivity and strengthened sorghum value-chain