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According to a new study, new sorghum varieties developed by scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help meet the nutritional needs of mothers and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Key findings: 


  • The new varieties are enhanced with both provitamin A and non-provitamin A carotenoids.
  • These varieties also contain a more efficient phytase enzyme, a protein that breaks down phytic acid. This improves the absorption of nutrients from the diet.
  • The results show that sorghum made from the strain of this new variety can produce 32 times more provitamin A carotenoids than regular sorghum varieties. 
  • New healthier sorghum varieties with significant concentrations of provitamin A carotenoids increase mineral absorption.
  • These sorghum lines also contained high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids which are important for eye health and brain development.


Key facts about Sorghum:

  • It is also called great millet, Indian millet, milo, durra, or shallu, cereal grain plant of the grass family (Poaceae) and its edible starchy seeds.
  • The plant likely originated in Africa, where it is a major food crop.
  • It is the fifth major staple cereal after wheat, rice, maize and barley.
  • It is cultivated worldwide in warmer climates and is an important food crop in semiarid tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Central America.
  • In India sorghum is known as jowar, cholam, or Jonna. Different varieties of sorghum range in colour from white and pale yellow to deep red, purple and brown.
  • Sorghum is especially valued in hot and arid regions for its resistance to drought and heat.
  • It is tolerant to drought because of its root system.
  • It performs better than maize during drought and occupies areas unsuitable for maize in stress-prone semiarid areas.
  • It is tolerant of salinity and to some extent to waterlogging for a short period. It is sensitive to frost and to sustain flooding.
  • In recent years, there has been a shift in sorghum production from the drier western production areas to the wetter eastern


Q1) What are Carotenoids?

Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in plants, algae, and some bacteria. These organic compounds are responsible for the bright red, orange, and yellow colors seen in various fruits, vegetables, and flowers. They play essential roles in photosynthesis, as well as in providing various health benefits to humans and other animals.

Source: These new sorghum varieties might help sub-Saharan Africa meet nutritional needs