By Rogers Aghan, March, 2, 2023, Millets constitute an extensive group of small-grained, dryland cereals including barnyard, foxtail, and fonio, among others. Millets are a rich source of vital nutrients.
Millets are grown in Africa and Asia primarily, with India being the prominent producer foolwed by Nigeria, Niger, and China. Millets were among the first plants to be domesticated and continue to serve as a traditional staple crop in different sub-Saharan African and Asian regions.
These crops have since survived harsh growing conditions considering they are rooted in ancient cultures and ancestral traditions. Their adaptability and resilience to climate change offer the opportunity to strengthen food security and enhance economic growth.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, millets deserve attention and a place at our tables.
The ever-growing global population needs healthy and sufficient food amidst climate emergencies and the depletion of natural resources.
Millet offers the opportunity to counter the high demand for food because of its ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions. They can be harvested in dry seasons and are suitable for populations vulnerable to food insecurity.
Nonetheless, millets contribute to a healthy diet. They are a source of minerals, proteins, and antioxidants.
Each millet variety offers different types and amounts of fiber, which are vital for blood sugar and averting problems associated with constipation. Millets are gluten-free making them a great food option for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, diabetes, or high blood sugar.
The crop could be a promising livelihood opportunity for small-scale farmers. Millet can regain market share even with the widespread cereals which have influenced the shift of dietary preference away from the crop. By encouraging the consumption and production of the crop, small-scale farmers can access the market once again.