7 Reasons Why Millet Production Is Booming Worldwide
Millet is a group of small-seeded cereal crops that are widely grown in semi-arid and sub-tropical regions of the world. Millet has many benefits for farmers, consumers, and the environment, which make it a booming crop in the global market. Here are seven reasons why millet production is increasing worldwide, along with some facts and examples to support them.
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1. Millet is drought-tolerant and resilient to climate change.
Millet can grow in poor soils and low rainfall conditions, making it a suitable crop for dryland agriculture. Millet can also withstand high temperatures and pests, which reduces the need for irrigation and pesticides. Millet is a climate-smart crop that can help farmers adapt to the challenges of climate change. For instance, millet can survive in regions where other crops fail due to droughts, floods, or heat waves. According to a study by ICRISAT, millet can produce up to 2.5 times more grain per unit of water than maize or sorghum.
2. Millet is nutritious and healthy.
Millet is rich in protein, fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and other micronutrients that are essential for human health. Millet is also gluten-free and has a low glycemic index, which makes it suitable for people with celiac disease, diabetes, and obesity. Millet can help prevent malnutrition, anemia, and chronic diseases. For example, millet can provide up to 30% of the daily protein requirement and 40% of the daily iron requirement for children and women in developing countries. Millet can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
3. Millet is diverse and versatile.
Millet comprises various types of grains, such as pearl millet, finger millet, proso millet, foxtail millet, and little millet. Each type of millet has its own characteristics and uses. Millet can be consumed as whole grains, flour, porridge, bread, snacks, beverages, and beer. Millet can also be used as fodder for livestock and poultry. Millet can be prepared in various ways to suit different tastes and preferences. For example, millet can be cooked as a rice substitute, popped as a popcorn alternative, or fermented as a sourdough starter.
4. Millet is indigenous and culturally important.
Millet is one of the oldest crops in the world and has been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia and Africa. Millet is part of the traditional diets and cuisines of many communities and regions. Millet is also associated with cultural festivals and rituals in some countries. Millet is a source of pride and identity for many farmers and consumers who value its local origin and heritage. For example, millet is celebrated as a sacred crop in India during the Sankranti festival, as a staple food in Ethiopia during the Meskel festival, and as a symbol of prosperity in Mali during the Tabaski festival.
5. Millet is profitable and competitive.
Millet has a high yield potential and a low cost of production compared to other cereals. Millet can also be intercropped with other crops, such as legumes, vegetables, and fruits, to increase farm income and diversify food sources. Millet can compete with other cereals in the global market due to its quality and value addition. For example, millet can fetch higher prices than rice or wheat due to its nutritional benefits and niche markets. Millet can also be processed into various products, such as flour, flakes, pasta, noodles, cookies, cakes, breads, bars, chips, and drinks.
6. Millet is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Millet can improve soil fertility and water conservation by enhancing soil organic matter and reducing soil erosion. Millet can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil and using less fossil fuels for cultivation. Millet can contribute to biodiversity conservation by providing habitats for wildlife and pollinators. For example, millet can enrich the soil with nitrogen by fixing atmospheric nitrogen through symbiotic bacteria in its roots. Millet can also save water by using only 250 mm of rainfall per year compared to 1500 mm for rice or 750 mm for wheat.
7. Millet is supported by policies and programs.
Millet has gained recognition and support from various governments, organizations, and institutions around the world. Several initiatives have been launched to promote millet production, consumption, research, innovation,
and trade. Some examples are the International Year of Millets 2023 declared by the United Nations, the Smart Food initiative led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and the National Mission on Nutri-Cereals implemented by the Government of India.
Millet is a crop of the future that can address multiple challenges of food security, nutrition security, climate change, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. Millet production is booming worldwide due to its multiple benefits for farmers, consumers, and the environment.
Millet Production in the World
Millet is a group of small-seeded cereals that are grown in dry and semi-arid regions of the world. Millet is an important staple food for millions of people in Asia and Africa, where it provides protein, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. Millet is also used as animal fodder and for making alcoholic beverages.
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Global Trends in Millet Production
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global production of millet was 30.6 million metric tons in 2019, up from 28.8 million metric tons in 2018.
- The leading millet producing countries in the world are India, Niger, and China, accounting for more than 55% of global production. India alone produced 10.7 million metric tons of millet in 2019, followed by Niger with 5.1 million metric tons and China with 4.3 million metric tons.
- Other major millet producing countries include Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Pakistan.
- The global average yield of millet was 0.83 tons per hectare in 2019, slightly lower than the previous year. France had the highest yield of millet with 3.6 tons per hectare, followed by Italy with 2.9 tons per hectare and Egypt with 2.8 tons per hectare.
- The global area harvested for millet was 36.9 million hectares in 2019, down from 37.4 million hectares in 2018. India had the largest area harvested for millet with 10.1 million hectares, followed by Niger with 7.5 million hectares and China with 4.6 million hectares.
Global Demand for Millet
- Millet is mainly consumed as food by humans, especially in developing countries where it is a staple crop. Millet is also used as animal feed, biofuel, and industrial raw material.
- According to the FAO, the global consumption of millet was 29.5 million metric tons in 2019, up from 28.1 million metric tons in 2018.
- The leading millet consuming countries in the world are India, Niger, and Nigeria, accounting for more than 50% of global consumption. India alone consumed 9.6 million metric tons of millet in 2019, followed by Niger with 4.8 million metric tons and Nigeria with 4.2 million metric tons.
- Other major millet consuming countries include Mali, China, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Pakistan.
- The global per capita consumption of millet was 3.8 kg in 2019, slightly higher than the previous year. The highest per capita consumption of millet was recorded in Niger with 24 kg, followed by Mali with 18 kg and Burkina Faso with 17 kg.
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