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K-State Today

April 19, 2018

K-State Innovation Lab hosts global conference on sorghum in Cape Town, South Africa

Submitted by Kira Everhart-Valentin

Dr. Tim Dalton opens the 2018 global sorghum conference

Food security, value-added products, genetics, global trade, climate-smart agriculture. These topics and more drove the discussions of more than 400 international researchers, industry professionals, government representatives and development specialists convening in Cape Town for the first global conference on sorghum in more than two decades.

The conference, Sorghum in the 21st Century: Food, Feed and Fuel in a Rapidly Changing World, was April 9-12 at the Century City Convention Center and was co-hosted by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research in Sorghum and Millet — based at Kansas State University — and the University of Pretoria. The conference delegates represented 40 different countries from around the world and used the unique opportunity to convene around crucial issues for the global sorghum community.

Sorghum is a key cereal crop that is produced and consumed across nearly every continent of the world. It is a highly drought-tolerant crop that is used heavily for livestock feed and food for human consumption. Sorghum's nutritional qualities are making it increasingly of interest in health-conscious diets and its water-smart characteristics make it particularly well-adapted to the many production challenges faced in the midst of climate change. Sorghum also is currently being looked at closely for its value as a source of disease-fighting nutraceuticals as well as for bio-fuels in the global push for improved renewable, plant-based energy options.

The conference was sponsored by numerous international and local organizations and institutions, including the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID; the Australian Sorghum Conference Committee; the United Sorghum Checkoff Program; the McKnight Foundation; and the South African Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, among others. The aim, said conference organizers, was to bring the global community together to establish priorities and collaboration that will lead to key developments in sorghum in the years to come.

"The purpose of this conference was to move this dialogue further and establish what we know about the state of sorghum science and industry, identify key unknowns, and seek opportunities for greater collaboration to break down geographical and scientific barriers to build momentum for success," said Timothy J. Dalton, professor at Kansas State University and director of the Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab.

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