Sorghum is an important part of the traditional diet in many parts of the world, including the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. Already arid, few places in the world are more susceptible to climate change than the Sahel.

Sorghum is sometimes called “the Camel of Cereals” because it can thrive in these harsh conditions. Through traditional cross-breeding work, researchers can enhance those drought-tolerant features of sorghum and give farmers a reliable crop that consumers in their area want to eat.

As a grain, sorghum also provides many essential nutrients, including B vitamins, niacin, thiamin, iron and manganese. Around 100 grams contains 329 calories, nearly three-fourths of a daily allowance of carbohydrates and 11 percent of a person’s necessary protein for the day.

By planting improved varieties that are perennial, rather than annual, farmers might also limit yearly tilling that can lead to topsoil erosion and further environmental degradation.