+ Genus Sorghumis in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe of Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane). The genus of grasses with about 30 species, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants, either cultivated or as part of pasture. Sorghum species are native to the tropics and subtropics of the Old World and one species is endemic to Mexico, a number have been introduced into other parts of the world. The plants are cultivated in warm climates worldwide. + Species Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), also known as milo, has a variety of uses including food for human consumption, feed grain for livestock and industrial applications such as ethanol production. Sorghum is well adapted to growth in hot, arid or semiarid areas. The many subspecies are divided into four groups - grain sorghums (such as milo), grass sorghums (for pasture and hay), sweet sorghums (formerly called "Guinea corn", used to produce sorghum syrups), and broom corn (for brooms and brushes). The name "sweet sorghum" is used to identify varieties of S. bicolor that are sweet and juicy.
1.3- Origin and Distribution + Origin Sorghum originated in north-eastern Africa, with domestication having taken place there around 5,000 - 8,000 years ago. The largest diversity of cultivated and wild sorghum is also found in this part of Africa. The last wild relatives of commercial sorghum are currently confined to Africa south of the Sahara - although Zohary and Hopf add "perhaps" Yemen and Sudan - indicating its domestication took place there. + Distribution From Africa sorghum was introduced to the Indian Subcontinent, with evidence for early cereal cultivation dating back about 4,500 years. During the Muslim Agricultural Revolution, sorghum was planted extensively in parts of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. The name "sorghum" comes from Italian "sorgo", in turn from Latin "Syricum (granum)" meaning "grain of Syria". Despite the antiquity of sorghum, it arrived late to the Near East. It was unknown in the Mediterranean area into Roman times. Tenth century records indicate it was widely grown in Iraq, and became the principal food of Kirman in Persia. In addition to the eastern parts of the Muslim world, the crop was also grown in Egypt and later in Islamic Spain. From Islamic Spain, it was introduced to Christian Spain and then France (by the 12th century). In the Muslim world, sorghum was grown usually in areas where the soil was poor or the weather too hot and dry to grow other crops. Most cultivated varieties of sorghum can be traced back to Africa, where they grow on savanna lands. It grows in harsh environments where other crops do not grow well. Today sorghum is grown on 42 million hectares in 98 countries of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of grain sorghum followed by the United States and India. Mexico, Sudan, China and Argentina are also major producers, and Mauritania, Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Somalia, Yemen, Chad, Sudan, Tanzania and Mozambique also produce significant quantities. It is usually grown without application of any fertilizers or other inputs by a multitude of small-holder farmers in many of these countries. The crop has for centuries been one of the most important staples for millions of rural people in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa. For many impoverished regions of the world, it remains a principal source of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Leading exporters include the United States, Australia and Argentina; with Mexico as the largest importer.