Millet

What is Millet?

Millet is a cereal grain that belongs to the grass family, Poaceae. It is one of the oldest domesticated crops, with evidence of its cultivation dating back to ancient times in Eurasia and the Middle East. Millet is a self-pollinating crop that can grow in a variety of environments, including cold, arid, and high-altitude regions. Its versatility and hardiness have made it an important crop for both human and animal consumption.

Millet is an annual crop that typically grows to a height of two to three feet. It has a hollow, cylindrical stem with long, flat leaves. The plant produces spikelets, which are clusters of flowers that contain grains. The grains themselves are small and oblong, with a tough outer layer called the hull. The hull must be removed before the grains can be used for human consumption.

Millet is a crop that requires relatively low levels of water and nutrients to grow. It can be grown in areas with poor soil quality and has a relatively short growing season, making it a popular crop in regions with harsh winters. Millet is also an important crop for crop rotation, as it can help to break up soil and prevent the buildup of pests and diseases.

Millet is a highly adaptable and durable crop that has been integral to human and animal nutrition for millennia. Its capability to thrive in different conditions and its resilience to pests and diseases make it an essential crop for sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, ongoing research investigates the potential health advantages of millet, such as its ability to lower the risk of certain ailments.

Millet Production in the World

India is the top country producing Millet in the world. As of 2022, India produced 11,849,190 tonnes of Millet, accounting for 38.40% of the total production. Niger is the world's second-largest Millet producer, with 3,656,958 tonnes, which represents 11.85% of the total production. In terms of Millet yield, Azerbaijan is the most productive country on the planet with 154,816. China, Nigeria, and Mali are the top three leading countries with '2,700,000', '1,941,220', '1,844,664', and '1,675,000' tonnes respectively. Maldives has the lowest production of Millet in the world with only 5 tonnes in 2022. The world's total production of millet was estimated at 30,859,663 tonnes in 2022.

Source: FAOSTAT

Top 10 Countries by Millet Production in 2022

Top Countries by Production of Millet in 2022

Rank Country production(Tonnes) acreage(Hectare) Yield
1
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India
8,488,1508,488,15013,960
2
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Niger
6,780,6236,780,6235,393
3
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Sudan
2,500,0002,500,0006,700
4
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Mali
2,104,4372,104,4378,766
5
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Nigeria
2,000,0002,000,0009,706
6
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Chad
1,194,0641,194,0645,814
7
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Burkina Faso
1,043,2571,043,2578,701
8
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Senegal
969,693969,69311,313
9
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China
900,000900,00030,000
10
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Ethiopia
455,000455,00025,275
11
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The United Republic of Tanzania
300,000300,00011,167
12
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Nepal
267,071267,07112,711
13
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Pakistan
240,621240,62110,654
14
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Namibia
211,631211,6312,112
15
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United States of America
205,180205,18010,394
16
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Russian Federation
198,684198,68415,496
17
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Guinea
168,693168,69313,029
18
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Myanmar
156,606156,6069,259
19
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Angola
149,198149,1982,346
20
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Ghana
136,349136,34914,397
21
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Zimbabwe
116,859116,8593,241
22
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Yemen
89,00089,0005,618
23
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Côte d'Ivoire
81,60381,6038,593
24
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Eritrea
75,00075,0003,333
25
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Democratic Republic of the Congo
73,28973,2896,697
26
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Cameroon
72,00072,00013,889
27
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Democratic People's Republic of Korea
71,79571,79510,555
28
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Uganda
68,35068,35014,171
29
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Kenya
62,04762,04710,154
30
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Malawi
59,30959,3097,194
31
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South Sudan
56,45256,4528,505
32
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Mozambique
53,44353,4434,400
33
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Ukraine
49,10049,10018,448
34
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Togo
46,94246,9425,947
35
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Gambia
39,08539,0859,574
36
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Kazakhstan
38,82238,8229,575
37
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Australia
35,82935,82910,226
38
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Sierra Leone
34,39534,39511,048
39
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Guinea-Bissau
33,31933,3198,645
40
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Zambia
33,03333,0337,333
41
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Uzbekistan
27,68927,68928,000
42
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Benin
25,65425,6549,352
43
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Congo
15,55015,5508,746
44
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Botswana
13,67913,6793,655
45
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Mauritania
13,00013,0002,644
46
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South Africa
12,94712,9474,892
47
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Rwanda
12,87512,8755,684
48
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Bangladesh
10,97910,97911,301
49
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Burundi
10,00010,00011,000
50
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Central African Republic
10,00010,00010,000
51
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Belarus
9,6749,67416,596
52
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Iran (Islamic Republic of)
7,0477,04717,330
53
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Saudi Arabia
6,4006,40018,359
54
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Argentina
5,8245,82416,277
55
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Libya
4,2224,22214,212
56
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Morocco
2,5492,54920,258
57
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Iraq
1,5021,50216,025
58
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Afghanistan
1,2681,26813,180
59
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Türkiye
1,2291,22933,914
60
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Republic of Korea
1,0001,00010,000
61
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Vietnam
99799714,603
62
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Bhutan
52552511,467
63
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Taiwan
31031016,006
64
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Japan
2852858,819
65
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Switzerland
28228230,709
66
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Sri Lanka
25725712,374
67
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Azerbaijan
190190154,816
68
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Serbia
1071079,994
69
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Kyrgyzstan
646414,063
70
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Tajikistan
606030,982
71
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Syrian Arab Republic
515116,667
72
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North Macedonia
252513,566
73
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Republic of Moldova
20205,000
74
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Mexico
1818151,000
75
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Maldives
668,793

Cultivation of Millet

The cultivation of millet involves several key points to ensure successful growth and a productive harvest. Here are the main points in the process:

  1. Soil Selection: Millet thrives in well-drained soil with good fertility. It is essential to choose a suitable location with soil characteristics that support millet growth.
  2. Land Preparation: Before sowing millet seeds, it is necessary to prepare the land, which entails loosening the soil and creating an appropriate seedbed. This process typically involves plowing or tilling the soil to eliminate impediments such as weeds, rocks, and other debris that could impede seed germination and hinder the growth of the plants.
  3. Sowing: Millet seeds are sown in the prepared seedbed. The exact sowing time and method may vary depending on the millet variety and local growing conditions. Seeds are typically sown at a specific depth and spacing to promote proper plant development and efficient use of resources.
  4. Watering and Irrigation: Adequate water supply is crucial for millet cultivation, especially during the critical growth stages. Proper irrigation techniques, such as overhead sprinklers or drip irrigation, ensure that the plants receive sufficient water without causing waterlogging or excessive moisture.
  5. Weed and Pest Control: Weeds pose a challenge to millet as they compete for nutrients and sunlight, ultimately impacting the growth and yield of the crop. To manage weed growth, farmers utilize different approaches such as manual weeding or the application of herbicides. Furthermore, it is crucial to monitor the crop regularly and implement pest control measures to safeguard it from potential damage caused by insects or diseases.
  6. Fertilization: Depending on the soil nutrient levels, farmers may need to supplement the millet crop with fertilizers. Soil testing helps determine the appropriate type and amount of fertilizers needed to ensure optimal plant nutrition and yield.
  7. Crop Monitoring: Consistent monitoring of the millet crop is essential to evaluate its growth, identify any problems or nutrient deficiencies, and apply suitable corrective actions. This entails observing the health of the plants, evaluating their water requirements, and promptly addressing any occurrences of pests or diseases.
  8. Harvesting: Harvesting of millet usually takes place when the seeds have reached complete maturity. The precise timing of the harvest varies depending on the particular variety of millet and its intended purpose. The process involves cutting the stalks near ground level and gathering the seed heads.

By following these key points and implementing proper agricultural practices, farmers can cultivate millet effectively and maximize their chances of a successful harvest.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Millet: What You Need to Know

Millet offers several health benefits due to its nutrient composition and unique characteristics. Here are some of the key health benefits associated with consuming millet:

  1. Nutrient-rich: Millet is a good source of essential nutrients. It contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health, regulates blood sugar levels, and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Millet is also rich in minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, which are vital for bone health, energy metabolism, and antioxidant defense.
  2. Gluten-free alternative: Millet is naturally gluten-free, making it a suitable grain for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. It can be used as a substitute for gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, or rye in various recipes, allowing people with gluten-related disorders to enjoy a diverse range of grain-based dishes.
  3. Heart-healthy: The high fiber content in millet, combined with its low glycemic index, may contribute to heart health. Consuming high-fiber foods like millet can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as fiber helps lower cholesterol levels and maintain healthy blood pressure.
  4. Antioxidant properties: Millet contains various antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. These antioxidants play a role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  5. Weight management: The fiber content in millet can contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety, which may aid in weight management. Including millet in a balanced diet can help control appetite, prevent overeating, and support healthy weight loss or maintenance goals.
  6. Digestive health: Millet's high fiber content promotes regular bowel movements and can help prevent constipation. It acts as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, thereby supporting a healthy gut microbiome.

It's important to note that individual nutritional needs and health conditions may vary, and it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations.

Nutritional Information of Millet

The following is an approximate nutritional profile of millet per 100 grams:

  • Calories: 378 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 73 grams
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 9 grams
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4.72 milligrams (24% of the Recommended Daily Intake - RDI)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.41 milligrams (20% of the RDI)
  • Folate: 44 micrograms (11% of the RDI)
  • Iron: 3.9 milligrams (22% of the RDI)
  • Magnesium: 114 milligrams (29% of the RDI)
  • Phosphorus: 285 milligrams (29% of the RDI)
  • Potassium: 195 milligrams
  • Zinc: 2.0 milligrams (13% of the RDI)

Millet is also a good source of other minerals like copper, manganese, and selenium, although the exact amounts may vary slightly depending on the specific variety of millet. It is worth noting that millet is gluten-free, making it a suitable grain option for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Regional Variety of Millet

Millet is cultivated and consumed in various regions around the world, and different types of millet are favored in different regions. Here are some examples of regional varieties of millet:

Africa:

  1. Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum): Pearl millet is a staple crop in many African countries, particularly in the Sahel region. It is used to make dishes like "tuwo" in Nigeria, "togbei" in Burkina Faso, and "thiakry" in Senegal.
  2. Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana): Finger millet, known as "ragi," is widely grown and consumed in East Africa, particularly in countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya. It is used to make porridge, flatbreads, and fermented beverages.

Asia:

  1. Foxtail Millet (Setaria italica): Foxtail millet is commonly consumed in Asian countries such as China, India, and South Korea. It is used in various dishes, including porridge, rice alternatives, and traditional sweets.
  2. Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum): Proso millet is grown and consumed in parts of Asia, including China, India, and Russia. It is used in dishes like porridge, pilafs, and as a gluten-free alternative to rice.

Europe:

  1. Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum): Proso millet is cultivated in Europe, particularly in countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Hungary. It is used for various culinary purposes, including porridge, soups, and as an ingredient in bread.

North America:

  1. Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum): Proso millet is grown in the United States and Canada, primarily as a grain for birdseed. However, it is also used in human consumption, including as a gluten-free alternative in various recipes.

South America:

  1. Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum): In certain South American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, pearl millet is grown and utilized for both culinary purposes and as animal feed.

These instances serve as a few examples of regional millet varieties, and it's worth noting that additional local variations and specific preparations may exist, each unique to their respective regions. Millet's adaptability to diverse climates and its cultural importance contribute to its significance as a versatile and valuable grain in numerous regions worldwide.

Structure of Millet

The structure of the millet consists of various components that contribute to its overall composition and form. Here is an overview of the main structural elements of millet:

  1. Seed/Grain: The seed, also known as the grain, is the edible part of the millet. It is small and round, typically measuring around 2-4 millimeters in diameter. Millet seeds come in different colors, including white, yellow, red, and gray, depending on the specific variety.
  2. Hull/Outer Layer: The seed of millet is covered by a tough, outer layer called the hull or husk. The hull is generally inedible and needs to be removed before consumption or further processing. The removal of the hull exposes the nutritious inner part of the grain.
  3. Bran Layer: Beneath the hull lies the bran layer, which is rich in dietary fiber and various beneficial compounds. The bran layer is responsible for the grain's brownish color and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  4. Endosperm: The endosperm is the largest part of the millet grain and provides a source of energy and nutrients for the developing plant. It primarily consists of carbohydrates, proteins, and some vitamins and minerals.
  5. Germ: The germ is the embryo of the millet seed and is the part from which a new plant would grow. It is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The germ is located at the base of the seed and can be visible as a small, lighter-colored area.

The structure of the millet gives it a unique texture and contributes to its nutritional profile. The hull and bran layers contain important nutrients and fiber, while the endosperm provides energy. Understanding the structure of millet helps in processing the grain for various culinary and industrial purposes while retaining its nutritional benefits.

Types of Millet

There are several types of millet, each with its own unique characteristics and culinary uses. Here are some of the commonly known types of millet:

  1. Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum): Pearl millet is one of the most widely cultivated types of millet. It has large, pearl-shaped grains and is known for its tolerance to drought and high temperatures. Pearl millet is commonly used in traditional African and Indian cuisines to make porridge, flatbreads, and fermented beverages.
  2. Foxtail Millet (Setaria italica): Foxtail millet is a small-grained millet that resembles the shape of a foxtail. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is often used as a gluten-free substitute for rice in various dishes. Foxtail millet is popular in Asian cuisines, particularly in South India and China, where it is used in stir-fries, pilafs, and as a rice alternative.
  3. Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana): Finger millet, also known as ragi, is a millet variety that has tiny, finger-like grains. It is a staple crop in parts of Africa and India. Finger millet is highly nutritious and rich in calcium, iron, and fiber. It is often ground into flour and used to make porridge, rotis (flatbreads), and traditional fermented beverages.
  4. Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum): Proso millet, also called common millet or broomcorn millet, has a small, round grain. It is versatile and can be cooked and used in a variety of dishes, including porridge, pilafs, salads, and baked goods. Proso millet is widely cultivated in Europe, Asia, and North America.
  5. Barnyard Millet (Echinochloa spp.): Barnyard millet, also known as Japanese millet or billion-dollar grass, has small, globular grains. It is a staple food in parts of Asia and Africa. Barnyard millet is often used in porridge, and rice dishes, and as a gluten-free alternative for couscous.

These are just a few examples of the different types of millet. Each type of millet has its own distinct flavor, texture, and culinary uses, making them versatile grains that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes and dietary preferences.

Uses of Millet

Millet has a wide range of uses in various culinary and non-culinary applications. Here are some common uses of millet:

  1. Food: Millet is a versatile grain and is consumed as a staple food in many regions. It can be cooked and used in a variety of dishes, such as porridge, pilafs, soups, stews, salads, and side dishes. Millet flour is used for making bread, flatbreads, pancakes, and other baked goods. In some cultures, millet grains are popped like popcorn for a crunchy snack.
  2. Fermentation: Certain types of millet, such as finger millet and pearl millet, are used in the fermentation process to produce alcoholic beverages. For example, finger millet is used to make traditional African and Indian fermented beverages like "tella" and "ragi malt," respectively.
  3. Animal Feed: Millet is also used as a feed grain for livestock and poultry. It provides a source of nutrition and energy for animals and is often included in animal feed formulations.
  4. Traditional Crafts: The sturdy stalks of some millet varieties, like pearl millet, can be used in traditional crafts. They are used for thatching roofs, making brooms, weaving mats, and creating decorative items.
  5. Erosion Control: Millet, particularly proso millet, is sometimes planted as a cover crop or used in erosion control measures. It's dense growth and extensive root system help prevent soil erosion and improve soil health.
  6. Ornamental Grass: Certain millet varieties, such as foxtail millet, have attractive seed heads and are grown as ornamental grasses in gardens and landscapes.

It's important to note that the uses of millet can vary across cultures and regions. The versatility and adaptability of millet make it a valuable crop with diverse applications in agriculture, food production, and traditional practices.