17 February 2006

Kenya: Researchers Unveil New Variety of Sorghum Seed

Nairobi — A new nutritious variety of sorghum seed was launched yesterday.

Unlike the traditional starch-rich sorghum, the genetically engineered variety contains protein and vitamin nutrients and can be easily digested.

It also contains high levels of vitamins A, E and D, iron, zinc and amino acids, said Dr Florence Wambugu, a coordinator of the Africa Biofortified Sorghum project.

Sorghum is the third leading staple food after maize and beans, and food experts say the breakthrough could help improve the country's food security.

"We wanted to provide lasting solutions by using biotechnology to create a 'super sorghum,'" she said. The new variety will also prevent malnutrition especially in children and elderly people.

Modern genetic engineering techniques that were used in the successful development of Bt Maize by the US-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International were applied in the project, he said.

"Biotech tools have allowed scientists to take genes discovered through corn research and introduce them to sorghum to discover the nutritional improvements, " she told reporters at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.

"Sorghum is one of the few crops that grow well in arid areas, but is deficient in most essential nutrients. It is also difficult to digest when cooked," said another official, Mr Paul Anderson.

Copyright © 2006 The Nation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.