It’s been long, I wanted to write something on the crop I am working on.
It is Proso millet.
Like all other grass family members, it is from Poaceae family. Genus is Panicum. Scientific name is Panicum miliaceum.
It is is mostly cultivated in USA, China, India, Niger, Nepal, Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Middle East, Turkey, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, and Romania. Radioactive dating showed its origin was around 10,000 BP in China. It was introduced in the USA by German-Russian Immigrant in 1875.
Fig. 1 Countries growing proso millet around the world
Proso millet is the best suited crop in the semi-arid region of the world. where annual rainfall is pretty low. Here in the western Nebraska and the Central Great Plains where annual rainfall is < 100mm, proso millet stand out as an important rotational crop with winter wheat. High water use efficiency (WUE) with shallow root system (~90 – 92 cm root) helps it thrive and adapt only using the minimal water which is available through the spring rain. It also helps in conservation of subsurface water for the deep-rooted crop like corn, wheat, sunflower. Cultivating proso in the summer fallow also helps in controlling the annual grass weeds. Short growing season of proso millet also makes it ideal and helps it fit perfectly in the winter wheat – proso millet rotation.
Fig. 2 Map of Central Great Plains (Map Source: https://bit.ly/2EC6UXc)
Proso millet is also a miracle grain with multitudinous health benefits.
· It is gluten free,
· It has low glycemic index,
· It increases blood HDL level
· It has high antioxidant
· It has high mineral content
· Essential amino acid index is higher than wheat
Quinoa and Proso millet
Though its abundant health and environmental benefits, it is mostly used as bird seeds in USA. However, due to recent upsurge in health consciousness among people and rapid wave of ancient grains in market proso millet did get some attentions. However still far behind the imported ancient grain like “quinoa”. Though if you compare the nutritional profile of proso millet and quinoa, both are in neck to neck fight with similar carbohydrate, protein, vitamin, amino acids and mineral quantities. Both quinoa and proso millets are gluten free. Moreover, proso millet is locally grown seeds and increased market share can improve the local farm economy. While rapid increase in the export of quinoa has created imbalance in local economy and also impacting the ecosystem of the importing country due to conversion of forest lands to farmland to meet the demands. But, despite all the facts, proso millet is still struggling to get into the human food market where quinoa has established itself as a golden seed of health benefits.
New hybrid varieties with high nutritional value and extension regarding different prospects and perspectives of proso millet is the need of time to expand and develop new market for proso millet.
So, What we do ?
we are trying to develop new varieties of proso millet which will be more marketable and test the developed varieties in multi location for the environment and genotype interaction and try to select the best varieties which gives significant yield in different environment and locations.
For Further Readings: Beyond Bird Feed: Proso Millet for Human Health and Environment