Millet is one of the oldest human foods and is believed to be the first domesticated cereal grain. Although is difficult to determine its exact origin, it’s believed that millet was domesticated in Africa and India. As one of the oldest cultivated crops, millet has been a staple food of semi-arid tropic areas for thousands of years.
Millet as a Remarkable Crop
The benefits of farming millet has been and will continue to be recognized throughout the years, as one of the a few crops that is able to, and currently does, support the world’s food supply.
The millet is the most nutritious crop of all major cereals. Each one of the millet types has more fibers than rice and wheat. Some millet varieties have high levels of methionine, an amino acid that is lacking in the diets of millions of poor people. It has the highest iron content of any grain crop and it contains a rich source of minerals. Millet is also high in starch, and its proteins are easily digestible. The nutrient content of all types of millet, comparing it to rice and wheat, is shown in the table below.
Although millet is nutritious and a good tasting crop, it’s also a crop suitable to every farmer. There are several remarkable advantages to farming millet including:
- Because of it tolerance to both drought and high temperatures, it is a crop that is easily adaptable to changing climates; it is tolerant of both saline and acid – based soils and is well adapted to marginal lands with low productivity
- It doesn’t require chemical fertilizers; in fact, it grows better in the absence of chemical fertilizers, which makes it very suitable for smallholder farmers in countries with limited input access
- It is a crop that is pest-free and can be managed without the use of harmful pesticides
- The millet grain is resistant to rot and insects, allowing farmers to manage and store them for years, making this grain an important staple food when no other food is available
- The millet can be used as a fodder crop or for processing.
Adaptable but Labor Intensive Crop
In considering all before mentioned benefits, millet farming can significantly contribute to the household food security nutrition of farmers and inhabitants of semi-arid areas. However, millet is a labor-intensive crop as it tends to be harvested by hand, especially in developing countries. The millet is harvested by cutting only the seed heads of the entire crop. Furthermore, millet seeds are very small, which makes them difficult to manage. Another problem experienced in millet farm management is the presence of weeds. The millet weed, seen in Africa is a wild relative of millet. And since it is very similar to cultivated millet, it’s difficult to distinguish between weed and crop. Only skilled farmers manage to determine the difference.
Improving Millet Farming
Millet is one of a few crops not threatened by climate changes. Farming of this remarkable, nutrient-rich, and adaptable crop can improve the future of food production. In order to contribute to global food production, every millet farmer should follow effective and efficient farm management practices, which include organization and tracking of goods. Sometimes it’s hard for farmers to organize farm production, especially in the case of labor-intensive crops such as millet.
However, farming is much easier with AGRIVI farm management software. With this software, farmers can relax and let the software guides their farming. Simple and yet powerful farm management software enables farmers to track all activities for each crops and field. Based on collected data, AGRIVI gives clear insight into productivity and profitability, which may shorten decision-making time. With the best farm practices for more than 100 crops, AGRIVI provides simple and quick access to farm knowledge to each farmer.
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Text sources: Springer || Nourishing the Planet