State-run Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) has started partnering with the private sector in a pilot use of sweet sorghum which can potentially lower feed cost to P20.49 per kilo and raise net income to P18.49 per kilo of chicken live weight.
The development of sweet sorghum grains as complementary to corn grains as feed raw material may help raise Philippines’ poultry and livestock sector’s competitiveness through cost reduction.
In a cost and return analysis, PAC found experimental feeds from sweet sorghum to be cheaper at P20.49 per kilo compared to P21.86 per kilo using corn. The corn-sorghum mix experimental feed cost P20.7 per kilo.
The Philippines still significantly imports corn feed ingredients particularly feed wheat at one million metric tons (MT) as projected for 2013 by the Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (Pafmi). The United States Department of Agriculture estimated the country’s corn importation to reach 100,000 MT for market year 2012-2013.
The entire feed milling industry was estimated to be valued as of 2005 at P103.25 billion, according to Pafmi.
The government is embarking on research and development (R&D) on feeds with its important role in making the local poultry and livestock industry competitive, according to Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) Nicomedes P. Eleazar.
“We need to do more R&D on feeds since feeds account for a significant amount of our animal growing cost,” said Eleazar. “Any competitiveness in cost will have an important impact in raising the standard of living especially of our small farmers.”
Cost of feeds may account for a significant 50 percent of the cost of raising poultry and livestock.
Entrepreneur Caleb Tan who owns a 2000-head layer farm in Malabon believes government’s R&D investment in feeds will eventually pay off.
“We’ve been importing a lot of feed ingredients like wheat. I think we should really push for feeds materials like sweet sorghum. I think there’s a potential for sweet sorghum as feed as you can just plant it in your backyard,” said Tan.
Sweet sorghum has the primary advantage of being a climate smart crop—one that can be planted in marginal lands and in rainfed (non-irrigated) areas.
Tan found sweet sorghum feed as equivalent to corn-based feed when it was subjected to a study by PAC. He used this on his layer farm which is an organic farm.
“I found that the quality of the eggs and the production (quantity) is the same (as that with corn), so I thought I can really use sorghum to replace corn feed,” he said.
He has been trying to find a source of organically-grown corn, particularly a non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn, for his farm. He found sweet sorghum grains as his excellent feed grain candidate.
Average daily gain
PAC has also found an advantage in sweet sorghum feeds with its ability to speed up fattening of chicken. It was fastest to raise average daily grain of chicken using sweet sorghum feeds as ADG was 38.28 grams (g) per day.
For pure corn diet, ADG was 37.74 grams. The corn and sorghum diet combination brought animal ADG to 38.14 grams.
Net income from sweet sorghum as feed was higher at P18.49 per kilo compared to corn, P14.9 per kilo. For the corn-sorghum mix feed, it was P17.31 per kilo.
Acceptability or palatability to animals of sweet sorghum feeds was similar compared to corn-based or other feeds. This was evidenced by the consumption rate.
“The result would imply that sweet sorghum can replace corn without causing adverse effects on performance,” said the PAC in a report.
In Ilocos Norte, Bapamin Enterprises engaged in 2009-2010 in the pilot use of sweet sorghum grains for feeds with San Miguel Corp (SMC) for its B Meg feeds. SMC tried 15 MT of sweet sorghum grains for mixture in its formulation also under BAR’s sweet sorghum commercialization project.
Bapamin is campaigning for mass planting of sweet sorghum all over Luzon so that it can be popularized for feed use. It is targeting to produce 300 MT of sweet sorghum grains by 2014 coming from its 25-hectare land in Batac, Ilocos Norte and other provinces.
“We have been asked (by a trader) to supply them 20 tons a month. We can only supply them by January (2014) when harvest comes,” he said.
After the trials with the private sector, the government has to address other problems in sweet sorghum’s use for feed. Production of grains is still limited as farmers do not yet have an assured market.
Likewise, companies cannot commit to buying sweet sorghum grains as farmers do not yet regularly plant sweet sorghum. Besides, a continuous R&D program is needed to assure the private sector of adequate support for the production of commercial-grade quality feed grains.
Sweet sorghum flour
BAR is developing markets for other sweet sorghum products for food, particularly for highly-nutritious grains and flour. Sweet sorghum grains is eyed as a main ingredient for diet of patients in a local hospital. It may be an ingredient in champorado or porridge (lugaw).
Sweet sorghum flour is gluten-free. It is suitable for those ill of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine. Gluten-free food is also advised on autism patients.
Bapamin General Manager Antonio S. Arcangel said Bapamin has proposed a partnership with the Wellness and Nutrition department of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Fort Bonifacio Global City and in Quezon City.
“We’re going to St. Luke’s in Quezon City for accreditation. St. Luke’s at the Global City approved in principle (our supply of the grains and flour), but before they make the order, they asked us to get accredited in their Quezon City,” said Arcangel.
Sweet sorghum is also soon expected to be released as a sweetener in the market. BAR has supported a glycemic index (GI) study of sweet sorghum sweetener. It has been initially found out sweet sorghum sweetener has lower GI level at 61 compared to sugarcane’s 65 to 100 GI.
Sweet sorghum is reported by Bapamin to be a good-quality sweetener owing to its reported fine taste. The variety being used for sweetener has been developed by the Internationals Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics or Icrisat
Icrisat’s SPV422 was specifically found to have a brix content of 19 degrees based on an earlier 2007-2008 field study, the highest among sweet sorghum varieties. Its seed crop yield was highest at 57.5 metric tons per hectare.
Sweet sorghum planting is aimed to help raise the income of Filipino farmers. Under the PAC study, it was found that in two experimental farms, sweet sorghum showed high profitability which was at more than P125,000 per hectare compared to profit in rice and corn.
“A farmer would earn more than twice or even thrice for every peso he would invest in sweet sorghum production, depending on the type of production ecosystem and cropping season he would plant the crop,” according to the PAC report.
There are many options from which farmers can earn additional income.
These are selling the grains, cane stalks with leaves as forage for animals, or the stripped cane stalks to produce juice extracts, and boiled sweet sorghum juice (jaggery). The sweet sorghum juice may be simply used to produce liquid sugar, or it may be fermented from which to produce ethanol.
Other products that can be derived from sweet sorghum as shown in the PAC study are hair remover, soap, spa salt, body scrub, and liniment oil.
For food products, these are burger sorghum, mushroom in sorghum soup, pastillas de sorghum, pop sorghum, sorghum porridge, sorghum con moringa, sorghum in salt, sorghum as sweet product, sorghum native cake, sorghum cake with langka, sorghum porridge with chicken, sorghum sapin-sapin, soup, suman, sorghum-yam native cake, sorghum-choco porridge, sorghum-squash native cake, pepper leaves in sorghum, espasol na sorghum, and veggie-sorghum soup.
Under the PAC-BAR project, a total of 486 people was benefited by the project. These were 136 farmers, 108 mothers, 185 LGUs and professionals and 57 out of school youths and students.
BAR believes it should support projects that would help diversify crops planted on soil as it would contribute to environmental sustainability and soil conservation.
For any questions, please call Dr. Norman de Jesus, 0928-550-2561; Mr. Tony S. Arcangel, 0916466-3071; for interview requests, please call Ms. Analiza C. Mendoza, 0906-239-2362