Sorghum takes pressure off wheat production in drought-hit Australia

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Sorghum takes pressure off wheat production in drought-hit Australia

Related tags Australia New south wales

Increased consumption of Australian sorghum in China is behind a boom in the production of the supergrain, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

Sorghum production increased by 70% in the last year to an estimated 2.2m tonnes, the government researcher said, with demand expected to rise again next year alongside favourable growing conditions. 

With Australia in the midst of a lengthy drought, sorghum is seen as a godsend for farmers due to its hardy character and cheap cultivation. Considered a superfood in nutrition circles, it is also a staple in China and India.

Katie Hutt from the ABS said that sorghum production had increased in the face of falling wheat production, signifying a shift towards sorghum by farmers. 

"The total area of sorghum in Australia increased by 37% in 2014-15 to 730,000 hectares, up from 532,000 in 2013-14, resulting in record high areas of sorghum​," Hutt said. 

"ABS export data reflects the increase in production with a higher demand from China, which accounted for the majority of Australian sorghum exports in 2014-15​." 

"Wheat production was estimated to have fallen in Western Australia with frost and hail damage contributing to the decrease​." 

"Wheat production was also estimated to have fallen in New South Wales due to a dry finish across most of the state, adversely affecting yields​."

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