The name millet refers to several small seeded grasses or plants of the grass family (Poaceae, Gramineae), used for food (cereal crops), fodder or as bird feed.
The seeds are edible and are mostly ground into flour but some of them are also used to make alcohol.
Millets are mainly grown in semi-arid tropics in Africa and Asia, especially India and the Sahel region in Africa. They are important crops in these regions because they have a short growing season and can withstand hot and dry conditions with poor soils.
Here is a list of the common millets:
- Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) – commonly grown as a cereal crop in Africa and India, where it’s a staple food for over 100 million people (PROTA).
- Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana) common in Eastern and Southern Africa and Southern Asia.
- Proso Millet, Common Millet, White Millet (Panicum miliaceum), mainly grown for livestock feed because it’s low in the amino acid lysine.
- Little Millet, Telugu, Samalu (Panicum sumatrense)
- Foxtail or Italian Millet (Setaria Italica)
The following two species are also grasses grown for their seeds
- Teff (Eragrostis teff) seeds ground into flour which is used to make Injera (a fermented Flatbread) in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in Africa )
- Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor): aka Great Millet, Durra or Jowari. Sorghum is grown as a cereal crop for food and animal feed but is also used to produce Alcohol.