Pearl millet

Pearl millet

second name Bajra /Bajri

U.S. pearl millet hybrid for grain
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Genus: Pennisetum
Species: P. glaucum
Binomial name
Pennisetum glaucum

Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke
Pennisetum typhoides (Burm. f.) Stapf & C. E. Hubb. Pennisetum typhoideum

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is the most widely grown type of millet. Grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times, it is generally accepted that pearl millet originated in Africa and was subsequently introduced into India. The center of diversity, and suggested area of domestication, for the crop is in the Sahel zone of West Africa. Recent archaeobotanical research has confirmed the presence of domesticated pearl millet on the Sahel zone of northern Mali between 2500 and 2000 BC [1]. Cultivation subsequently spread and has moved overseas to India. The earliest archaeological records in India date to around 2000 BC [2], and it spread rapidly through India reaching South India by 1500 BC, based on evidence from the site of Hallur. Cultivation also spread throughout eastern and southern Africa. Records exist for cultivation of pearl millet in the United States in the 1850s, and the crop was introduced into Brazil in the 1960s.

Pearl millet is well adapted to growing areas characterized by drought, low soil fertility, and high temperature. It performs well in soils with high salinity or low pH. Because of its tolerance to difficult growing conditions, it can be grown in areas where other cereal crops, such as maize or wheat, would not survive.

Today pearl millet is grown on over 260,000 km² worldwide. It accounts for approximately 50% of the total world production of millets.[3]


Common names for pearl millet

  • In Pakistan: باجرا (Ba'ajra, in Urdu, Sindhi Language, Punjabi Language, Saraiki Language)
  • In India: बाजरी (Bajri in Rajasthani, Gujarati and Marathi), ಸಜ್ಜೆ (Sajje in Kannada); கம்பு (Kambu in Tamil); बाजरा (Bajra in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi) and సజ్జలు (Sajjalu in Telugu)
  • In Africa: gero (Hausa), mahangu (Namibia), sanio, gero, babala, nyoloti, dukkin, souna, petit mil, heyni (Zarma), mexoeira (Mozambique), mashela (Tigrinya), mhunga (Shona, Zimbabwe), lebelebele(Setswana, Botswana),zembwe (Ikalanga, Botswana), دْرُعْ dro'o (Tunisian Arabic), دُخن dokhn (Yemen Arabic)
  • In Australia: bulrush millet
  • In Brazil: milheto Kaustubh
  • In the USA: cattail millet (Pennisetum americanum)
  • In Europe: candle millet, dark millet

Pearl millet around the world


India is the largest producer of pearl millet. It is locally known as bajra, and is primarily consumed in the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Roti (made from pearl millet) has been the primary food of farmers in Gujarat. It is also used to make other Gujarati Dishes like Dhebra or Thepla, Vada, etc. Bajra is a rain fed crop.It grows in vishakapatnam,prakasam,nalgonda,anantapur and mahabubnagar districts of AP.In 2000-2001,0.14 million tonnes of bajra was grown.


Pearl millet is an important food across the Sahel. It is the main staple in a large region of northern Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. It is often ground into a flour, rolled into large balls, parboiled, liquefied into a watery paste using fermented milk and then consumed as a beverage. This beverage called "fura" in Hausa is popular drink in northern Nigeria and southern Niger.


A scientist in Zimbabwe checks a pearl millet crop

In Namibia, pearl millet is locally known as "mahangu" and is grown mainly in the north of that country, where it is the staple food. In the dry, unpredictable climate of this area it grows better than alternatives such as maize.

Mahangu is usually made into a porridge called "oshifima" (or "oshithima"), or fermented to make a drink called "ontaku" or "oshikundu".

Traditionally the mahangu is pounded with heavy pieces of wood in a 'pounding area'. The floor of the pounding area is covered with a concrete-like coating made from the material of termite mounds. As a result, some sand and grit gets into the pounded mahangu, so products like oshifima are usually swallowed without chewing.[4][not in citation given] After pounding, winnowing may be used to remove the chaff.

Some industrial grain processing facilities now exist, such as those operated by Namib Mills. Efforts are also being made to develop smaller scale processing using food extrusion and other methods. In a food extruder, the mahangu is milled into a paste before being forced through metal die. Products made this way include breakfast cereals, including puffed grains and porridge, pasta shapes, and "rice".[5][not in citation given]

Recently more productive varieties of pearl millet have been introduced, enabling farmers to increase production considerably.[6]


  1. ^ Manning, Katie, Ruth Pelling, Tom Higham, Jean-Luc Schwenniger and Dorian Q Fuller (2010) 4500-year old domesticated pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) from the Tilemsi Valley, Mali: new insights into an alternative cereal domestication pathway. Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2): 312-322
  2. ^ Fuller,D.Q. (2003). African crops in prehistoric South Asia: a critical review. in Neumann,K., Butler,A., Kahlheber,S. (ed.) Food, Fuel and Fields. Progress in Africa Archaeobotany. Africa Praehistorica 15 series. Cologne: Heinrich-Barth-Institut, 239-271.
  3. ^ Millet. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Board on Science and Technology for International Development; Office of International Affairs, National Research Council (1996-02-14). "Pearl Millet: Subsistence Types". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Lost Crops of Africa. 1. National Academies Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-309-04990-0. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pearl millet — Pearl Pearl, n. [OE. perle, F. perle, LL. perla, perula, probably fr. (assumed) L. pirulo, dim. of L. pirum a pear. See {Pear}, and cf. {Purl} to mantle.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A shelly concretion, usually rounded, and having a brilliant luster, with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pearl millet — ☆ pearl millet n. a tall cereal and forage grass (Pennisetum glaucum) having pearly white seeds borne in dense spikes …   English World dictionary

  • pearl millet — melsvoji soruolė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Miglinių šeimos grūdinis, pašarinis kultūrinis augalas (Pennisetum glaucum), auginamas Afrikoje, pietų Azijoje; jo grūdai naudojami maistui. atitikmenys: lot. Chaetochloa glauca; Chamaeraphis …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • pearl millet — a tall grass, Pennisetum americanum (or P. glaucum), cultivated in Africa, the Orient, and the southern U.S. for its edible seeds and as a forage plant. Also called African millet, Indian millet. [1885 90] * * * …   Universalium

  • pearl millet — noun tall grass having cattail like spikes; grown in Africa and Asia for its grain and in the United States chiefly for forage; sometimes used in making beer • Syn: ↑bulrush millet, ↑cattail millet, ↑Pennisetum glaucum, ↑Pennisetum Americanum •… …   Useful english dictionary

  • pearl millet — noun Date: circa 1890 a tall cereal grass (Pennisetum glaucum syn. P. americanum) that has large leaves and dense round spikes and is widely grown for its seeds and for forage …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pearl millet — noun Pennisetum glaucum …   Wiktionary

  • pearl millet — noun a cereal with long cylindrical ears, cultivated in the driest areas of Africa and the Indian subcontinent. [Pennisetum glaucum.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • pearl millet — /pɜl ˈmɪlət/ (say perl miluht) noun a tall grass, Pennisetum glaucum, cultivated widely for its edible seeds and as a forage plant …   Australian English dictionary

  • List of pearl millet diseases — This article is a list of diseases of pearl millet ( Pennisetum glaucum ). Bacterial diseasesNematodes, parasiticReferences* [ Common Names of Diseases, The American Phytopathological Society] …   Wikipedia

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