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Food science

Acceptability of improved varieties of sorghum for consumption in northern Nigeria - L. A. Ega,A. F. Olatunde, and C. C. Nwasike


Farmers' acceptance of and preference for crop varieties depend to a large extent on consumption value and market price. Therefore, food quality considerations are crucial for extension of high-yield varieties. We explored whether several new sorghum of varieties that have been found to have high agronomic performance are acceptable for consumption by using them in two foods commonly prepared from sorghum (kamu and tango). All the improved varieties made acceptable kamu and tango. They met the expectations of consumers for colour, appearance, flavour, taste, and texture and did nor pose obvious processing and milling problems. There is a need to monitor these varieties and subject them to further consumer preference tests using quantitative techniques and the combined effects of the major factors that commonly affect acceptance of crops for production and use, namely, expected yield or income, labour requirement, technical feasibility, nutritional value, and acceptability to consumers.


The shift toward rural development has been facilitated by a technology generally referred to as the green revolution [1], involving the use of new high-yield varieties of crops with necessary inputs- fertilizer, herbicides, machinery, and irrigation facilities. Even though the green revolution has resulted in considerable gains in crop production, problems are associated with its use. Also, without complementary institutional changes and modifications. it tends to create problems of fit with local conditions. These have limited the application of its remarkable potential for increasing productivity [2-5].

Some of the problems are related to consumer acceptance and marketing. Many of the new varieties have been considered to be unpalatable and to have undesirable characteristics, especially when compared with traditional or local varieties.

Since farmers' acceptance of and preferences for varieties depend on their consumption value and market price, food quality is crucial for the extension of high-yield varieties. Therefore, acceptable crop varieties must be identified and selected in the early stages of breeding programmer. By implication, scientists need to look for and select for what is desirable in the environment in which the crop is to be grown [6].

Sorghum is widely grown in the semi-arid and Savannah regions of Nigeria. Virtually all of it is produced by peasants, primarily to meet their subsistence needs. People in this area obtain the largest proportion of their calories from cereals; until recently, when maize began to play a prominent role, most of the calories came from sorghum.

Paradoxically, the rate of adoption of improved sorghum varieties and technology by these smallscale farmers has been quite limited. This raises questions regarding the acceptability of the new varieties and the associated cultural practices. Apart from technical feasibility, one important consideration is the socio-economic factors that may affect production and consumption. This paper discusses some of these factors as they relate to the improved sorghum varieties developed at the Institute for Agricultural Research (JAR) at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria.

TABLE 1. Physical properties of the improved varieties of sorghum investigated



1 ,000-kernel
weight (g)


of grain

L 187


42.46 0.57



L 243

mostly floury

26.00 0.90


pale yellow

L 533

mostly floury

26.00 0.93


pale yellow

L 1499

mostly corneous

32.49 0.94



SK 5912

mostly corneous

32.29 0.69




One fundamental way of evaluating the acceptability of a food is to undertake screening excercises in cooperation with people who normally eat it and can tell whether a sample is good or bad. Kamu and tango, two foods commonly prepared from sorghum in Nigeria, were used to test the quality and consumer acceptability of five improved long-season sorghum varieties developed in the IAR breeding programme which have been found suitable in terms of high agronomic performance-L 187, L 243, L 533, L 1499, and SK 5912 (table 1). The tests were carried out both in farm households and by a panel of tasters. The foods were prepared and evaluated by the methods described by Obilana [7].

Kamu is a thin porridge usually prepared from a sorghum paste (endosperm fraction) made by wet milling after fermentation. The ingredients are approximately two tablespoons of the wet paste and six cups of water. The paste is mixed to a smooth, thin consistency in two tablespoons of water, and then is poured into boiling water with continuous stirring until it gelatinizes. The bowl is covered with a lid and cooked for an additional two minutes. The thin porridge can then be sweetened and consumed as desired, usually without storing. Kamu is usually served for breakfast or as part of a weaning food.

Tuwo is a stiff porridge made from dry-milled, nonfermented grain flour. About two or three cups of finely ground flour from dehulled sorghum is used with about four to five cups of water. The flour is added to boiling water, stirring continuously to avoid lumps, and cooked at a temperature of 60-70 C for about 15-20 minutes until the starch is gelatinized and the mixture is stiff, the cooking time depending on the temperature, the quantity prepared, and the variety of sorghum. The mixture is then placed on a flat plate or calabash and the sides are made smooth and is served with a savoury dish and meat, a vegetable sauce or stew, or a green vegetable and fish stew depending on taste and economic circumstances. Tuwo forms the main afternoon and evening meals for the households in the study area.

The qualities investigated were difficulties in the processing and preparation of the two dishes, product appearance, colour, taste, flavour, and preservation and keeping quality.

Twenty-eight women from farm households were selected from nearby villages and were given the quantity of sorghum they would normally use to prepare kamu or tuwo for their families. Twelve of the women used the grain for preparing kamu and the other 16 for tuwo. After their families had eaten the products, their evaluations were recorded.

The panel of tasters consisted of 13 people who regularly ate these dishes. The food was prepared by home economics students of the College of Agriculture, Samaru, using standard processing and preparation methods. The panelists' opinions on the properties of the dishes-especially their colour, flavour, taste, texture, and overall quality-were recorded.


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