Millet: Not Just For Birds
Millet, a whole grain which originated in Ethiopia, has been a staple in the human diet since prehistoric times. Millet is a gluten-free grain that’s high in antioxidant activity, and also especially high in magnesium, a mineral that helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. For many years, little research was done on the health benefits of millets, but recently they have been “rediscovered” by researchers, who have found various millets helpful in controlling diabetes and inflammation, and in helping to lower the risk of heart disease, breast cancer and gallstones.
Today, millet is the world’s sixth most important grain. India is the world’s largest producer of millet, with eight African countries and China making up the rest of the top ten producers. Depending on variety, millets can grow anywhere from one to 15 feet tall, and usually have a very hard, undigestible hull that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. Most millets do best in dry, warm climates. There are many different grains in the millet family, but Proso millet has the lowest water requirement of any grain crop, while finger millet (India) grows best in damp conditions.
You need 5,000 litres of water for 1 kilo of paddy (rice). Millets require less than one fifth of that. They are the best option since they have minimal requirements, need no pesticides and can grow in multiple soil conditions. With their extensive root systems they improve soil fertility and thrive in stressful conditions.
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