Pearl Millet

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

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is the most widely grown type of millet. Grown in India and Africa since prehistoric times, it is generally accepted that pearl millet originated in Africa and was subsequently introduced into India. The earliest archaeological records in India date to 2000 BC, so domestication in Africa must have taken place earlier. Its origin has been traced to tropical Africa. The center of diversity for the crop is in the Sahel zone of West Africa. Cultivation subsequently spread to east and southern Africa, and southern Asia.

Pearl millet is well adapted to production systems characterized by low rainfall, low soil fertility, and high temperature. It performs well in soils with high salinity. Because of its tolerance to difficult growing conditions, it can be grown in areas where other cereal crops, such as wheat or maize, would not survive.

Today pearl millet is grown on over 260,000 kmĀ² worldwide. It accounts for approximately 50% of the total world production of millets.[1]

In its traditional growing areas in India and many African countries, pearl millet is the basic staple for households in the poorest countries and among the poorest people. The grain is consumed in the form of leavened or unleavened breads, porridges, boiled or steamed foods, and (alcoholic) beverages. In the Sahel and elsewhere in northern Africa, pearl millet is an important ingredient of couscous. The stalks are a valued building material, fuel and livestock feed.

In non-traditional growing areas in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Europe, pearl millet is grown as a cover crop, or for forage or grain. Different varieties are grown for forage or grain.