In the process of human evolution, food was one of the primary needs. Primitive man had learnt the art of agriculture through his power of observation. He started observing the growth of many unfamiliar plants bearing various crops. He witnessed the edible part of the plants being eaten by insects, birds and animals, and gradually the man with his fellow men started consuming the raw crops.
With the passing of time, humans understood the art of classification of crops into edible and non-edible, meanwhile, fire was discovered which led to the art of cooking.
Man understood that certain crops will grow without much physical effort and even in the very less quantity of water or moisture they can grow and these crops had an innate capacity of facing nature’s variations in temperature, rainfall, moisture etc. The men started cultivating them as millets.
Millets were the major staple food of primitive man. They are rich in nutrition and are found in various sizes and colors. Some major millets are listed below.
1. Finger millet (Ragi)
2. Foxtail millet (Kakum)
3. Sorghum millet (Jowar)
4. Pearl millet (Bajra)
5. Little millet (Same)
6. Barnyard millet (Sanwa)
7. Kodo millet (Kodan)
8.Proso millet (Baragu)
The uniqueness of millet
Millets are those food crops which does not need much human effort and natures support to grow. They grow even in unfavourable climatic conditions. Millets are a very rich source of iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins and fibre. Millets have gained importance these days for their magical results of balancing high sugar levels and other health benefits. In the 21st century, most people are cautious about their health and diet. Millets serve the same purpose and can be their best food companions.
Benefits of Millet
Many countries of the world cultivate millets, and southern India is a dominant producer of millets.
1. Finger millet /Ragi
One of the finest, fat-free, rich in vitamins, millet is Ragi. Ragi seeds are small in size and round in shape. It is grown in southern state of India. A popular food item named Ragi ball is made out of Ragi flour. The other Ragi by products are Ragi bread, ragi dosa, ragi malt etc. Consumption of the millet keeps one fit and internally the human resistance power also gets charged by it.
2. Pearl millet/Bajra
Pearl millet is yet another millet loaded with various proteins and vitamins. This millet is used to make breads in the countryside of India. It will boost the digestive system. Tasty rotis are made by the flour of this millet in northern Karnataka region, it is also a well known food in Gujarat and Rajasthan. As it looks like pearl so it got the name pearl millet. This millet has antioxidants and helps in maintain the body temperature in winter.
3. Foxtail millet /Navane
Foxtail millet is the best alternative for rice. It grows in a short period. The millet is helpful in curing nervous disorders and also it helps to loose weight.
4. Kodo millet /Haraka
It is also known as cow grass, or rice grass. It is a rich source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. This millet is a drought-tolerant annual plant. Its cultivation is done in many parts of the world.
5. Proso millet /Baragu
Proso millet also known as baragu is well known for its super health benefits. The millets consumption helps to keep the metabolism of the human body in good condition.
6. Little millet/Same
Panicum sumatrense, known as little millet is a species of millet in the family of Poaceae. It is an annual herbaceous plant, which grows straight or with folded blades to a height of 30 centimeters. Like other millets, little millet is also known for its drought-resistant nature and its health benefits.
7.Barnyard millet /udalu
It’s a species of grass in the family. The millet is referredto by the common names of Japanese barnyard millet it is a species of Echinochola.
8. Brown top millet/Koralu
It is cultivated in India, China, Japan and Korea both as food and fodder for the animal. The millet is known for its medicinal and nutritional properties.
The modern world is facing many health issues due to lifestyle changes and the intake of junk foods. Other food crops like rice and wheat are grown with the support of a lot of chemical fertilizers. This is leading to many health hazards in this crucial situation, millets emerged as a ray of hope with their medicinal and nutritional values.
Millets will be promoted both domestically and abroad by the Indian government. In her statement on the budget in February, Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman stated that India is leading the way in boosting millet. Millets are a priority for the government. She claimed that the government’s strategy would aid in ensuring the nation’s food security and would focus on the welfare of farmers. In terms of health and employment, the millet agriculture industry has been a huge boon to India. Despite the fact that the industry is declining, government initiatives appear to be encouraging millet culture. Hopefully, it will rise in the near future.