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Pearl millet

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Title: Pearl millet  
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Subject: Millet, Economy of Mali, Economy of Punjab, India, Couscous, Economy of Togo
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Pearl millet

Pearl millet

second name Bajra /Bajri

U.S. pearl millet hybrid for grain
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Genus: Pennisetum
Species: P. glaucum
Binomial name
Pennisetum glaucum
(L.)R.Br.
Synonyms

Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke
Pennisetum typhoides (Burm. f.) Stapf & C. E. Hubb. Pennisetum typhoideum

Pennisetum glaucum
MHNT

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is the most widely grown type of millet. It has been grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times. The center of diversity, and suggested area of domestication, for the crop is in the Sahel zone of West Africa. Recent archaeobotanical research has confirmed the presence of domesticated pearl millet on the Sahel zone of northern Mali between 2500 and 2000 BC.[1] Cultivation subsequently spread and moved overseas to India. The earliest archaeological records in India date to around 2000 BC,[2] and it spread rapidly through India reaching South India by 1500 BC, based on evidence from the site of Hallur. Cultivation also spread throughout eastern and southern parts of Africa. Pearl millet is widely grown in the northeastern part of Nigeria (especially in Borno and Yobe states). It is a major source of food to the local villagers of that region. The crop grows easily in that region due to its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions like drought and flood. Records exist for cultivation of pearl millet in the United States in the 1850s, and the crop was introduced into Brazil in the 1960s.

Contents

  • Cultivation 1
  • Common names for pearl millet 2
  • Pearl millet around the world 3
    • India 3.1
    • Africa 3.2
      • Sahel 3.2.1
      • Namibia 3.2.2
  • Research and development 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Cultivation

A scientist in Zimbabwe checks a pearl millet crop
Pearl millet is well adapted to growing areas characterized by drought, low soil fertility, and high temperature. It performs well in soils with high salinity or low pH. Because of its tolerance to difficult growing conditions, it can be grown in areas where other cereal crops, such as maize or wheat, would not survive.

Today pearl millet is grown on over 260,000 km2 of land worldwide. It accounts for approximately 50% of the total world production of millets.[3]

Common names for pearl millet

Pearl millet around the world

India

India is the largest producer of pearl millet. Rajasthan is the highest-producing state in India.

Africa

Sahel

Pearl millet is an important food across the cowpea, the different growth habits, growth period and drought vulnerability of the three crops maximising total productivity and minimising the risk of total crop failure. It is often ground into a flour, rolled into large balls, parboiled, liquefied into a watery paste using fermented milk, and then consumed as a beverage. This beverage, called "fura" in Hausa, is a popular drink in northern Nigeria and southern Niger.

Namibia

In Namibia, pearl millet is locally known as "mahangu" and is grown mainly in the north of that country, where it is the staple food. In the dry, unpredictable climate of this area it grows better than alternatives such as maize.

Mahangu is usually made into a porridge called "oshifima" (or "oshithima"), or fermented to make a drink called "ontaku" or "oshikundu".

Mahangu pounding

Traditionally the mahangu is pounded with heavy pieces of wood in a 'pounding area'. The floor of the pounding area is covered with a concrete-like coating made from the material of termite mounds. As a result, some sand and grit gets into the pounded mahangu, so products like oshifima are usually swallowed without chewing.[4] After pounding, winnowing may be used to remove the chaff.

This flour mill in Tanzania mills pearl millet.

Some industrial grain processing facilities now exist, such as those operated by Namib Mills. Efforts are also being made to develop smaller scale processing using food extrusion and other methods. In a food extruder, the mahangu is milled into a paste before being forced through metal die. Products made this way include breakfast cereals, including puffed grains and porridge, pasta shapes, and "rice".[5]

Research and development

Recently more productive varieties of pearl millet have been introduced, enabling farmers to increase production considerably.[6]

To combat the problem of micronutrient malnutrition in Africa and Asia, a study of serving iron-biofortified pearl millets which is bred conventionally without genetic modification to a control group is proved to have higher level of iron absorbance by the group.[7]

The most widely grown millet is pearl millet, which is an important sized crop in India and parts of Africa. Finger millet, proso millet, and foxtail millet are also important crop species. In the developed world, millets are less important. For example, in the United States the only significant crop is proso millet, which is mostly grown for bird seed.

References

  1. ^ Manning, Katie, Ruth Pelling, Tom Higham, Jean-Luc Schwenniger and Dorian Q Fuller (2010) 4500-year-old domesticated pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) from the Tilemsi Valley, Mali: new insights into an alternative cereal domestication pathway. Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2): 312-322
  2. ^ Fuller,D.Q. (2003). African crops in prehistoric South Asia: a critical review. in Neumann,K., Butler,A., Kahlheber,S. (ed.) Food, Fuel and Fields. Progress in Africa Archaeobotany. Africa Praehistorica 15 series. Cologne: Heinrich-Barth-Institut, 239-271.
  3. ^ Millet. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
  4. ^ http://www.holidaytravel.com.na/index.php?fArticleId=222
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

  • , Chapters 4-6Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains - released by the National Research Council in 1996
  • Pearl Millet Thresher IDDS project
  • Pennisetum americanum in West African plants – A Photo Guide.
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