From Academic Kids

For the Ottoman system of ethno-religious divisions see Millet. For the French painter, see Jean-Franois Millet.
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Pearl millet hybrid developed for grain production in the U.S.

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Nutrition information for one cup of cooked millet

Millet is the collective name of a group of small-seeded genera of the grass family (Poaceae) widely grown around the world for food or animal feed.

Major research on millets is carried out by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Andhra Pradesh, India. (, and by the USDA-ARS at Tifton, Georgia, USA.

Pearl millet

Pearl millet [Pennesetum glaucum (L.) R.Br, syn. P. americanum (L.) Leeke] is the most widely grown of the group.

Pearl millet has been grown in India and Africa since prehistoric times. It is now generally accepted that pearl millet originated in Africa and that it was introduced into India from there.

Pearl millet is well adapted to production systems characterized by low rainfall, low soil fertility, and high temperature, and thus 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 km² worldwide.

Other names for pearl millet:

  • In the USA: cattail millet
  • In India: bajra, bajri, sajje, cumbu
  • In Africa: mahangu, sanio, gero, babala, nyoloti, bullrush millet, dukkin, souma
  • In Europe: candle millet, dark millet


In its traditional growing areas, 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, Brazil, Australia, and Europe, pearl millet is grown as both a forage and grain crop. The forage is used by cattle and other livestock. The grain is used to feed cattle and birds, particularly poultry, gamebirds for recreational hunting, and domesticated pets. Pearl millet grain is showing promise as a feedstock for ethanol production.

Other Millets

The millets include five genera of the Paniceae tribe of the grass family Poaceae (Panicum, Setaria, Echinochloa, Pennisetum and Eleusine). The most important cultivated species are :

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