Cape Town, South Africa — The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is participating in and serving as core sponsor for the international conference, Sorghum in the 21st Century, which kicked off Monday in Cape Town, South Africa.

The conference brings together more than 400 attendees in the sorghum research community from 40 countries around the world — 85 of those attendees representing the United States.

“This conference embodies much of the global knowledge base for sorghum research and development,” said Justin Weinheimer, USCP crop improvement director. “Sorghum farmers need crop advancements, and this conference provides a tremendous opportunity for the community to share ideas and create evolutionary change to propel the crop forward on a global scale.”

The program—the first of its kind in more than 20 years and the first in this century—will explore five cross-cutting themes: Accelerating progress in advanced breeding for improved crop adaptation to climate risks; Improving productivity and increasing profitability to expand opportunities across global markets; Enhancing resilience in the face of biotic and abiotic challenges; Tackling key issues in food security and farming systems for improved livelihoods for the smallholder farmer; and Exploring the future of the value-added—nutrition, biofuels and feedstuffs for evolving consumer demands.

“Our charge as a checkoff is to increase productivity and profitability for U.S. farmers,” said Brent Bean, USCP Director of Agronomy. “We need new ideas, so that is something we hope to gain through this event and relationships going forward.”

USCP hopes to garner understanding of advances in sorghum technology from around the world that hold potential to help address key issues in the U.S. Examples include cold and drought tolerance, stalk lodging and insect pressure. Research activities are being conducted globally to deliver solutions to these problems, and USCP is looking for ways to integrate these solutions to benefit the U.S. sorghum farmer.

“USCP is proud to be a sponsor of this event,” Weinheimer said, “and looks forward to enhancing working relationships with the global sorghum community to bring more value to sorghum fields in the U.S.”