Millets : the Miracle Grains                       

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Read full article by Suresh Muthukulam @ Krishi Jagran

“The rice eater is weightless like a bird, the one who eats jowar is strong like a wolf; one who eats ragi remains ‘nirogi’(illness-free) throughout his life”- an old Kannada saying.

Millet is a dietary staple and the main source of protein in most of the developing world. Globally, millet is the sixth most cultivated grain after corn, rice, wheat, barley and sorghum. It is very much suited to drought conditions and has great natural biodiversity, and can be cultivated in different types of locations. Millets are one of the oldest foods known to humans and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purpose.

Millets are grown on marginal lands by some of the poorest and marginalised communities – the Dalits, the Adivasis and the women in the dry land and hilly region. The millet symbolizes the food and knowledge sovereignty of Indian farmers and ensures a life of dignity and self-reliance for them. Most of the millet fields are inherently bio-diverse and no real farmer grows millets as a monocrop. They grow millets in combination with a host of pulses, legumes, vegetables and oilseeds.

Millets more sustainable as crops in arid arid regions. According to ICRISAT, one rice plant requires nearly 2.5 times the amount of water required by a single millet plant of most varieties. That is why millets are primarily grown in arid regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Millets can also withstand higher temperatures. Crops like rice and wheat can’t tolerate temperature more than 38-degree centigrade, while millets can tolerate a temperature of more than 46 degrees C. They can grow in saline soil. They can thus be grown as an important solution for farmers grappling with climate changes sea level rise which leads to increase in soil salinity, heatwaves, droughts, floods etc. Due to this peculiar nature, they are termed as the “miracle grains” or the “crops of the future”. Millets are cultivated as dual-purpose crops (food and fodder). Millets help in reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) as this contribute to mitigating the climate change.


Posted on

November 7, 2019

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