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Millets like Jowar (Sorghum), Bajra (Pearl millets) and Ragi (Finger millets) are also called coarse grains. They are kharif crops and are chiefly rain-fed crops, requiring hardly any irrigational facilities. Unlike rice, they grow in less rainy areas in the following order- Ragi (Damp areas), Jowar (Moist areas), and Bajra (Dry areas). Ragi requires comparatively more rain and Bajra requires the drier parts India. India leads the world in production of millets. The region under these crops has not amplified. Millets have protein content higher than both wheat and rice individually.The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Their essential similarities are that they are small-seeded grasses grown in difficult production environments such as those at risk of drought. They have been in cultivation in East Asia for the last 10,000 years. Millets are warm-weather cereals with small grains and include six genera, i.e. Panicum, Setaria, Echinochloa, Pennisetum, Paspalum and Eleusine.

  • Health Benefits
  • The protein content in millet is very close to that of wheat both provide about 11% protein by weight. Millets are rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millets contain no gluten, so they are not suitable for raised bread. When combined with wheat (or xanthan gum for those who have coeliac disease) they can be used for raised bread. Alone they are suited for flatbread. As none of the millets are closely related to wheat, they are appropriate foods for those with coeliac disease or other forms of allergies/intolerance of wheat. However, millets are also a mild thyroid peroxidase inhibitor and probably should not be consumed in great quantities by those with thyroid disease.

  • Uses of Millets
  • 1. As a food source
  • Millets are major food sources in arid and semi-arid regions of the world and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others. In Western India, Sorghum (called "Jowar" in Gujarati and Marathi) has been commonly used with millet flour (called "Bajari" in Western India) for hundreds of years to make the local staple flat bread (called "Rotla" in Gujarati or "Bhakri" in Marathi or Ragi Rotti in Kannada). Ragi Mudde is a popular meal in Southern India.

    People with coeliac disease can replace certain gluten-containing cereals in their diets with millet. Millets are also used as bird and animal feed.

  • 2. Alcoholic beverages
  • Millets are traditionally important grains used in brewing millet beer in some cultures. It is also the base ingredient for the distilled liquor rakshi in Nepal and the indigenous alcoholic drink of the Sherpa, Tamang, and Limbu people, tongba, in Eastern Nepal. Millet is also used to prepare the fermented drink boza.

  • 3. Other uses
  • Millet, along with birdseed is commonly used as fillings for juggling beanbags.

    p1Introduction of Pearl Millet (Bajra)

    This crop is cultivated for grain as well as for fodder and as a pasture . In India, the crop is grown over 12 million hectares, representing 30 per cent of the acreage of the world and 11 per cent of the total cereal production in India.

  • Crop Varieties
  • There are several varieties evolved earlier during the development of hybrid bajra. The most important among them are : 'Co1', 'Co2', 'Co3', 'Co4', 'Co5', 'K1', 'X-3' , 'AKPi', 'AKP2', 'Bajra 207', 'Bajra 28-15', 'L-17 Baroda', 'Babapuri'; 'RSK' and 'RSJ' , 'T-55', 'A1/3', 'S. 350' ,'S. 530', 'S. 28' and 'Pusa Moti' produced by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. Among them, 'HB3' is found to be excellent under rain-fed conditions, whereas 'HB4' was recommended for areas of adequate rainfall.

  • Agro-climatic Requirements
  • Climate
  • It is grown mostly during June to October and as a winter crop in March to June. Its range of adaptation is high under different day-lengths, temperatures and moisture stress. Most of the cultivars in India are relatively photo-insensitive as compared with the West African material which is highly photo-sensitive and very tall.

  • Soil
  • It is grown on a wide range of soils such as sandy loams and the light soils, heavy clays and very light soils and the shallow black, red and light soils. It is eminently suited to light soils.

  • Cultivation Practices for Pearl Millet (Bajra)
  • Land Preparation
  • It is grown as a pur or mixed crop and is rotated with cotton, sorghum, niger, wheat and in rabi with pulses as a mixed crop. It is grown along-with a wide varieties of oilseeds and pulses. It fits into an intensive cropping pattern of 3 or 4 crops per year where irrigation facilities exist. The preparation of land is done on a very limited scale, since the traditional areas of cultivation are of light texture. The crop is sown immediately after the onset of the monsoon in early June.

  • Propagation and Planting
  • The spacing is normally 60 cm between the rows and 15 to 20 cm within the rows. The available data on plant population and nitrogen application have shown that the row spacing can be reduced to 25 or 30 cm with 8 to 10 cm within the rows, particularly with the dwarf hybrids. With the new hybrids, it has been found that it is possible to maintain a plant population of 1,75,000/ha. Sowings are done normally in June-July for the kharif crop and in October for the rabi crop. The recommended seed-rate is 5 kg/ha. With some of the new dwarf hybrids, the plant population can be further increased with a spacing of 30 cm between the rows and 8 cm within the rows. The optimum date of sowing is found to be early July for a better establishment of the plants and for reducing the incidence of downey mildew.

    The average of the dry grain from the hybrid is around 20 to 25 q/ha as compared with an average of 3-1/2 quintals from the locals. With adequate soil moisture or irrigation, an average of 30-40 q/ha can be obtained. Although this crop is traditionally grown mixed with others, there is a shift toward its cultivation as a pure crop consequent upon the availability of new hybrids. Interculture done in the early stage up to four weeks after germination is adequate to suppress the weeds. The crop matures in October, with 50 per cent flowering completed in 48-55 days and maturity in 88 to 96 days. The photo-insensitivity of the male sterile line has been responsible for this behaviour of the hybride. Owing to serious damage by birds, bristled ears are favoured.

  • Harvesting
  • The crop is harvested close to the ground. However, the leaves of the hybrids are still green and can be used as fodder, when the locals are completely dry. The grain can be threshed after removing the ears from the harvested plants. The harvested crop is normally stacked for a few days. The dwarf hybrids are also suitable for harvesting with a combine.

  • Yield
  • The maximum yield recorded so far being 84 q/ha in Gujarat. The yield of straw varies from 12 to 90 q/ha. depending on the soil moisture. There are some fodder hybrids developed at Kanpur, e.g. 'KF665' and 'KF677', which are excellent in respect of yield and give 2 or 3 curs. Interspecific hybrids, such as 'Pusa Giant Napier' of the IARI and 'NB21' of Ludhiana, can be grown as semi-perennials with berseem as mixed crop.

  • Application of fertilizers
  • The locals are rarely manured under arid conditions, but the recent data on the fertilizer response of the new hybrids have shown that the economic optimum doses are 40 kg/ha in severe drought-prone areas, 80 kg N/ha in areas of limited to adequate moisture and 100 kg/ha in regions of adequate rainfall, with a high retentivity of moisture. The foliar application of half the recommended doses of nitrogen is suggested in the areas of severe drought. Under limited moisture, the yields of the hybrid varied from 1.300 to 2,400 kg/ha, depending on the nitrogen dose.The application of zinc sulphate at 2 kg/ha is found to be essential in light soils owing to the wide-spread deficiency of this element.

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    Arunachal Agriculture at a glance

    The basic inputs and elements of Agriculture

    Adequate and timely supply of inputs such as seed, fertilizer, pesticides, Agri-tools and implements, credit at reasonable rate to farmers will be provided by the Govt. and other institutions, subject to availability of resources and funds. Grater emphasis will be given to increase the consumption of such inputs for acheiving the targetted increase per unit area productivity. As far as possible use of organic manure/compost will be encouraged to avoid ill effects of inorganic fertilizers.

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