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World sorghum inventories are much smaller than those of other cereals. End-of-season stocks are currently estimated (1994 estimate) at 8 million tons (representing only 3 percent of world cereal stocks), down from 20-25 million tons in the mid 1980s. Although total stocks have fallen, they are now more widely distributed. Until the mid 1980s, usually more than half of world sorghum carryovers were held by the United States. In recent years, United States stocks have declined to less than 20 percent of the world total. China, India and Mexico are now estimated to hold larger inventories.

A large share of global sorghum stocks is also held informally by farmers in Group I countries. These are not fully reflected in official statistics. In regions with high variability of food grain production, particularly in Africa, these stocks sometimes constitute several years of consumption. More commonly, however, household sorghum stocks are much smaller. Most smallholder families can barely produce enough grain for one season's consumption and for seed for the next season. After a bad year, they are forced to purchase food and/or seed from the market or rely on drought relief assistance. Despite the importance of these inventories, accurate data on quantities held and how they are distributed are not available.

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