millet: Wikis

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in the field]]

The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Their essential similarities are that they are small-seeded grasses grown in difficult production environments such as those at risk of drought. They have been in cultivation in East Asia for the last 10,000 years.[1]


Millet varieties

]] The millets include species in several genera, mostly in the subfamily Panicoideae, of the grass family Poaceae. Of the major and minor millets (not including those plants sometimes called millet) all of the species are in the tribe Paniceae of the subfamily Panicoideae except for finger millet. The most widely-cultivated species in order of worldwide production[2] are.:

  1. Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum)
  2. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)
  3. Proso millet also known as common millet, broom corn millet, hog millet or white millet (Panicum miliaceum)
  4. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana)

Minor millets include:

  • Barnyard millet (Echinochloa spp.)
  • Kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum)
  • Little millet (Panicum sumatrense)
  • Japanese millet (Echinochloa esculenta)
  • Guinea millet (Brachiaria deflexa = Urochloa deflexa)
  • Browntop millet (Urochloa ramosa = Brachiaria ramosa = Panicum ramosum)

Teff (Eragrostis tef) and fonio (Digitaria exilis) are also often called millets, as more rarely are sorghum (Sorghum spp.) and Job's Tears (Coix lacrima-jobi).


Specialized archaeologists called palaeoethnobotanists, relying on data such as the relative abundance of charred grains found in archaeological sites, hypothesize that the cultivation of millets was of greater prevalence in prehistory than rice,[3] especially in northern China and Korea. It was millets, rather than rice, that formed important parts of the prehistoric diet in Chinese Neolithic and Korean Mumun societies. Broomcorn (Panicum miliaceum) and foxtail millet were important crops beginning in the Early Neolithic of China. For example, some of the earliest evidence of millet cultivation in China was found at Cishan (north) and Hemudu (south). Cishan dates for common millet husk phytoliths and biomolecular components have been identified around 8300–6700 BC in storage pits along with remains of pit-houses, pottery, and stone tools related to millet cultivation.[1] Evidence at Chishan for foxtail millet dates back to around 6500 BC.[1] A 4,000-year-old well-preserved bowl containing well-preserved noodles made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet was found at the Lajia archaeological site in China.[4]

Palaeoethnobotanists have found evidence of the cultivation of millet in the Korean Peninsula dating to the Middle Jeulmun pottery period (c. 3500–2000 BC) (Crawford 1992; Crawford and Lee 2003). Millet continued to be an important element in the intensive, multi-cropping agriculture of the Mumun pottery period (c. 1500–300 BC) in Korea (Crawford and Lee 2003). Millets and their wild ancestors such as barnyard grass and panic grass were also cultivated in Japan during the Jōmon period some time after 4000 BCE (Crawford 1983, 1992). Millet (Panicum miliaceum) has been consumed in Europe on a regular basis since 1300 BC. according to Anthony Harding(p. 315, The Oxford Illustrated Prehistory of Europe, ed. Barry Cunliffe, Oxford; Oxford University Press, 1994). The cultivation of common millet as the earliest dry crop in East Asia has been attributed to its resistance to drought.[1]

Major research on millets is carried out by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Andhra Pradesh, India, and by the USDA-ARS at Tifton, Georgia, USA.


India is the main producer of millet.

File:Millet fields in
Millet fields in the Annapurna-region of Nepal.
Top Ten Millet Producers — 2007
Country Production (Tonnes) Footnote
Template:Country data India 10610000 *
 Nigeria 7700000 *
 Niger 2781928
File:Flag of the People' People's Republic of China 2101000 F
 Burkina Faso 1104010
 Mali 1074440 F
 Sudan 792000 *
 Uganda 732000
 Chad 550000 *
 Ethiopia 500000 F
 World 31875597 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate(may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

Current uses of millet


As a food source

Millets are major food sources in arid and semi-arid regions of the world, and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others. In Western India, millet flour (called "Jowar" in Gujarati and Marathi) has been commonly used with "Bajara" (Sorghum called "Bajari" in Marathi) flour for hundreds of years to make the local staple flat bread (called "Rotla" in Gujarati or "Bhakri" in Marathi).

Millet porridge is a traditional food in both Russian and Chinese сuisines. In Russia it is eaten sweet (with milk and sugar added at the end of cooking process) or savoury with meat or vegetable stews. In China it is eaten without milk or sugar, frequently with beans, sweet potato, and / or various types of squash.

People with coeliac disease can replace certain gluten-containing cereals in their diets with millet.

Millets are also used as bird and animal feed.

Alcoholic beverages

Millets are traditionally important grains used in brewing millet beer in some cultures, for instance by the Tao people of Orchid Island, China, and, along with sorghum, by various peoples in East Africa. It is also the base ingredient for the distilled liquor rakshi in Nepal and the indigenous alcoholic drink of the Sherpa, Tamang and Limbu people tongba in Eastern Nepal. In Balkan countries, especially Romania and Bulgaria, millet is used to prepare the fermented drink boza.

Other uses

Millet, along with birdseed, is commonly used as fillings for juggling beanbags.


The protein content in millet is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight.

Millets are rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millets contain no gluten, so they are not suitable for raised bread. When combined with wheat or xanthan gum (for those who have coeliac disease), however, they can be used for raised bread. Alone, they are suited for flatbread.

As none of the millets are closely related to wheat, they are appropriate foods for those with coeliac disease or other forms of allergies/intolerance of wheat. However, millets are also a mild thyroid peroxidase inhibitor and probably should not be consumed in great quantities by those with thyroid disease.


The basic preparation consists in washing the millet and toasting it while moving until one notes a characteristic scent. Then five measures of boiling water for each two measures of millet are added with some sugar or salt. The mixture is cooked covered using low flame for 30–35 minutes.


  1. ^ a b c d Lu H, Zhang J, Liu KB, Wu N, Li Y, Zhou K, Ye M, Zhang T, Zhang H, Yang X, Shen L, Xu D, Li Q. (2009). Earliest domestication of common millet (Panicum miliaceum) in East Asia extended to 10,000 years ago. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 106: 7367–7372 PubMed
  2. ^ "Annex II: Relative importance of millet species, 1992-94". The World Sorghum and Millet Economies: Facts, Trends and Outlook. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1996. ISBN 92-5-103861-9. 
  3. ^ Tarannum Manjul (January 21, 2006). "Millets older than wheat, rice: Archaeologists". Lucknow Newsline. Retrieved on 2008-04-14. 
  4. ^ "Oldest noodles unearthed in China". BBC News. 12 October 2005. 
  • Crawford, Gary W. Paleoethnobotany of the Kameda Peninsula. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1983.
  • Crawford, Gary W. Prehistoric Plant Domestication in East Asia. In The Origins of Agriculture: An International Perspective, edited by C.W. Cowan and P.J. Watson, pp. 117–132. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1992.
  • Crawford, Gary W. and Gyoung-Ah Lee. Agricultural Origins in the Korean Peninsula. Antiquity 77(295):87-95, 2003.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




pearl millet in the field
Ripe head of proso millet

Etymology 1

From French millet, from Latin milium





millet (uncountable)

  1. Any of a group of various types of grass or its grains used as food.
  • (food grains): Brachiaria deflexa, Brachiaria ramosa, Coix lacrima-jobi, Digitaria exilis, Echinochloa, Eleusine coracana, Eragrostis tef, Panicum miliaceum, Panicum ramosum, Panicum sumatrense, Paspalum scrobiculatum, Pennisetum glaucum, Setaria italica, Urochloa deflexa, Urochloa ramosa, sorghum
Derived terms
See also

Etymology 2

From Turkish millet, from Arabic ملة (milla).


  • IPA: /ˈmɪlɛt/




millet (plural millets)

  1. (historical) A semi-autonomous confessional community under the Ottoman Empire, especially a non-Muslim one.
    • 2007, a common Serbian Orthodox Church [was] the one traditional institution permitted to exist under the Ottoman millet system which sought to rule subject peoples indirectly through their own religious hierarchies. — Elizabeth Roberts, Realm of the Black Mountain (Hurst & Co. 2007, p. 14)



From Latin milium




  1. Millet (grain).



From Arabic ملة (mílla), religious community.



  1. nation


Simple English

Millet is a type of grain that is eaten. There are many types of millet. Millets is a great part of nutrition; it includes three grams of protein per half serving and one gram of fiber per half serving. .6 miligrams is the amount of iron included in each half serving of millet.

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