Commercialization Prospects for
Sorghum and Pearl Millet in Tanzania
D D Rohrbach and J A B Kiriwaggulu
An Open Access Journal published by ICRISAT
SAT eJournal | ejournal.icrisat.org December 2007 | Volume 3 | Issue 1
Tanzania produces over 500,000 t of sorghum and 200,000 t of pearl millet1 per year. These are the
second and fourth most widely grown cereal grain crops in the agricultural economy. Yet virtually the
entire production is carried out on a subsistence basis. Less than 2% of the harvest enters the formal
market; the remainder is consumed on the farm. Thus, the main contribution of sorghum and pearl
millet is to farm household food security.
The lack of a commercial market has limited farmer interest in improving the management of these
crops. As a result, average sorghum and pearl millet yields have changed little over the past 15 years.
However, the area planted to these crops is still increasing. Continuing growth in the number of
farmers in Tanzanias drought-prone semi-arid areas contributes to a 1% average annual gain in
It is difficult to explain why only limited quantities of sorghum and pearl millet are marketed.
Tanzania generally imports grain, and commercial production of sorghum and pearl millet could
reduce dependence on imports. The countrys sorghum and pearl millet yields are relatively high by
African standards. And average sorghum grain prices in Dar es Salaam tend to be lower than those for
This report examines this conundrum. We first review current levels of farm supply and market
demand for sorghum and pearl millet. Next, constraints limiting the use of these crops by Tanzanias
food and feed industries are outlined. Finally, opportunities for expanding industrial utilization are
summarized. The analysis concludes that sorg