Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, some of which are raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents in addition to the South West Pacific and Australasia. Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane). Sorghum is known as great millet and guinea corn in West Africa, kafir corn in South Africa, dura in Sudan, mtama in eastern Africa, jowar in Hindi, solam in Tamil, Jola in Kannada, and kaoliang in China. Numerous sorghum species are used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, as well as biofuels. Most species are drought tolerant and heat tolerant and are especially important in arid regions. They form an important component of pastures in many tropical regions. Sorghum species are an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is the "fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world".
In Arab cuisine, the unmilled grain is often cooked to make cous-cous, porridges, soups, and cakes. Many poor use it, along with other flours or starches, to make bread. The seeds and stalks are fed to cattle and poultry. Some varieties have been used for thatch, fencing, baskets, brushes and brooms, and stalks have been used as fuel. Medieval Islamic texts list medical uses for the plant. In China, sorghum has long history of cultivation as a replacement for rice, which ordinary people had not been able to afford, the famous Chinese liquor, maotai is also brewed from sorghum.