What’s New In Sweet Sorghum
Sweet sorghum was introduced in the Philippines several years back as a possible source of biofuel. This plant has an excellent potential for that purpose but in the meantime that there is no large scale processing plant for biofuel production, there are a few entrepreneurs who are produc-ing other products from the juice of the plant.
One of them is Antonio Arcangel of Batac City in Ilocos Norte. He has been one of the first to be interested in developing non-biofuel products from the juice of sweet sorghum. That is quite understandable because the principal center for research and development on sweet sorghum is right at the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac. The fellow who leads in the experiments and nationwide testing of different varieties is Dr. Heraldo Layaoen of MMSU.
Tony Arcangel has been producing good quality vinegar out of sweet sorghum juice. Another product is sweet sorghum syrup which could be used in pancakes and other food products.
The latest product with an excellent potential is sweet sorghum sugar powder which is something very new. Normally, one can’t produce granulated sugar from sweet sorghum juice the way ordinary sugar is derived from sugarcane juice by cooking.
With the help of the Department of Science and Technology, Tony has been able to produce sweet sorghum sugar powder by means of spray-drying. First the sweet sorghum juice is made into syrup. Then the syrup is spray-dried to produce the sugar powder. This is claimed to be of better quality than the ordinary refined sugar from sugarcane. It is said to have a lower glycemic index, which means it could be used as sweetener for diabetics, just like coconut sap sugar.
Tony says that the nutrients in the syrup are retained in the sugar powder that is produced.
The main obstacle that Tony is facing is that the spray-drying machine is quite costly. It costs about P1.4 million, according to him. Hopefully, however, he would be able to acquire one through the help of a government research agency.
Sweet sorghum is highly suitable for planting in areas like the Ilocos where the dry season is quite long. It is resistant to drought and both the grains and stems are of economic value. The grains could be used as animal feed or processed for human consumption.
The juice could be made into a juice drink, vinegar, syrup and then the sweet sorghum sugar powder. The stalks could be shredded for feeding to livestock. Even the bagasse could be fed to animals.