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Millets

Overview

Crop Millets Eleusine Setaria, Pennisetum, Panicum Center of origin: EAF, EAS, SAF, SAS, SEA, WAF

The Crop Trust works to conserve two types of millets: Finger Millets and Pearl Millets.

Finger Millet

Finger millet is a hardy crop that is well adapted to arid highland areas in Africa and Asia. Its small and tough grain is easily stored and is a reliable food source in times of drought and crop failure.

Finger millet is grown across the savannah and highlands of Eastern and Southern Africa, with the highest annual production on the continent in Uganda. The crop is now grown on a larger scale in India, from the dry southern states up to an altitude of 2,300m in the Himalayas.

By providing essential amino acids, finger millet is an important addition to diets relying mostly on starchy crops such as cassava, maize and plantain. The grains are ground and used in baking flatbread, preparing porridges and also for brewing beer. The straw is used as animal fodder.

As with the other millets, finger millet is a crop that holds great potential for further breeding. Most finger millet found in farmers’ fields are landraces (farmer-selected “varieties”), many with unique traits and properties that could be useful in other regions. Some of the challenges facing breeders include finding resistance to common finger millet diseases such as blast, tar spot and leaf blight, and combining such resistance with high yield potential. According to the CGIAR, finger millet’s grain yields could be competitive with those of rice and other “green revolution” cereals.

Pearl Millet

Pearl millet is the most widely grown of the millets. There are few cereals able to produce such stable yields in marginal, hot and dry agricultural conditions.

Pearl millet is a staple cereal in the Sahel, Sudan, northern Namibia and Angola, and in the state of Rajastan in India. This reflects the crop’s main cultivation areas: across Africa from Mauritania to Sudan and south to South Africa, and across the Indian central plateau. Millions of the poorest farmers of the world depend on this crop.

Pearl millet is eaten in the form of breads, porridges and in boiled or steamed foods. Millet beer is often called a staple of religious and social life in Africa. As a result of its high protein content, and competitive yields on marginal lands, the grain is gaining popularity as feed for poultry and other livestock.

The adaptations of pearl millet to withstand extreme heat and drought are truly extraordinary. When there is a little moisture available, the seedling germinates and rapidly extends its roots far down into the soil to where water is available. Meanwhile the surface temperatures can climb above 50°C. In drought, the plant can stay dormant for long dry spells, bursting into growth once the rain returns.

The ability of pearl millet to grow in dry and marginal environments clearly makes it a crop with an important role in the future. As the market the crop serves is marginal, pearl millet may be considered an “orphan crop”, as it has historically received little attention from commercial breeders.

Conserving forever in genebanks

Filter by genebanks

ICRISAT

Number of varieties available to the public
75% 24,343
Data available in genesys
95.6% 31,019
Safety duplicated
39.5% 12,827

Breakdown of genebanks conserving Millets

  • ICRISAT 32,446 / 100%

The Crop Trust has supported 27 projects for Millets

  1. Brazil: The Crop Trust supported the Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (Embrapa, Cenargen) to collect and conserve 29 samples of finger millet in the semi arid regions of Brazil and conserve with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  2. Burkina Faso: The Crop Trust supported the Institut national de l’environnement et de la recherche agronomique (INERA) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 155 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  3. Ghana: The Crop Trust supported Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI), CSIR, Ghana to collect and conserve 25 accessions of wild finger millets and 30 accessions of wild pearl millet in eight administrative regions of Ghana with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. They are safety duplicated in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICRISAT)
  4. Ghana: The Crop Trust supported the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) to survey and collect pearl millets in three regions of Northern Ghana with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 126 accessions were collected and are safety duplicated in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICRISAT).
  5. Germany: The Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim, Germany and University of Elfasher, Sudan received funding from the Crop Trust to characterize and evaluate local pearl millets accessions from West Sudan for a number of agronomic and nutritional traits with the aim being to identify genotypes with superior agronomic and nutritional traits to be provided to farmers for direct use and /or breeders for use in subsequent breeding activities.
  6. Kenya: The National Genebank, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 971 finger millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 267 accessions are backed up in Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
  7. Kenya: The Crop Trust supported the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), Kenya to collect and conserve wild finger and pearl millets in the Coastal, Eastern, Central and Western parts of Kenya with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  8. Nepal: The Crop Trust supported Agriculture Botany Division (NARI) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 265 accessions of finger millets with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  9. Uganda: The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 465 finger millet and 36 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 460 accessions of finger and pearl millet are safety duplicated in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICRISAT)
  10. Uganda: The National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARO), Uganda received support from the Crop Trust to collect and conserve 121 accessions of wild finger millets and 127 accessions of wild pearl millets with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. They are safety duplicated in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICRISAT)
  11. Yemen: The Agricultural Research & Extension authority (AREA) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 30 finger millet and 305 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  12. India: The Crop Trust provided support to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to evaluate 238 accessions of the pearl millet mini-core for heat tolerance at two sites in India. 27 accessions were found to be tolerant to heat
  13. India: The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) receives an in perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long term conservation of the global collections of sorghum and pearl millet it holds on behalf of the international community.
  14. Mali: The Crop Trust provided support for the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) which is working with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Sahelian Center in Niger and the Lake Chad Research Institute in Nigeria to characterize and evaluate 155 accessions of pearl millet for three traits in three contrasting locations with the aim of identifying important sources of genes and integrating the material into breeding programs.
  15. Mali: The Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) received funding from the Crop Trust to survey and collect pearl millet in six regions of Mali with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 109 accessions were collected and 55 are safety duplicated in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICRISAT)
  16. Mali: The Crop Trust supported the Institut d’economie rurale (IER) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 71 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  17. Niger: The Crop Trust supported the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) who worked with the Institut d’economie rurale (IER) in Mali and the Lake Chad Research Institute in Nigeria to characterize and evaluate 155 accessions of pearl millet for three traits in three contrasting locations with the aim of identifying important sources of genes and integrating the material into breeding programs.
  18. Niger: The Crop Trust provided support for the Institut National Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN), which collaborated with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to characterize and evaluate 780 pearl millet accessions for resistance to pests and diseases and tolerance to drought with the aim of identifying important sources of genes and making them available to breeding programs
  19. Niger: The Crop Trust provided support for the Institut National de Recherches Agronomiques du Niger (INRAN) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 197 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  20. Nigeria: The Crop Trust provided support for the Lake Chad Research Institute, which worked with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Sahelian Center in Niger and the Institut D’Economie Rurale (IER) in Mali to characterize and evaluate 155 accessions of pearl millet for 3 traits in three contrasting locations with the aim of identifying important sources of genes and integrating the material into breeding programs.
  21. Nigeria: The National Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) received support from the Crop Trust to survey and collect pearl millets in the Northeastern, North Central and Northwestern parts of Nigeria with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. A total of 173 accessions were collected and 167 safety duplicated in International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
  22. Senegal: The Crop Trust provided support to the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 243 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  23. Sudan: The Crop Trust supported the Plant Genetic Resources Unit, Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICRISAT) and Svalbard Global Seed Vault 478 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  24. Tanzania: The National Plant Genetic Resources Centre and the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute, Tanzania received support from the Crop Trust to collect and conserve 28 accessions of finger millet and 36 accessions of pearl millet in Northern, Eastern, Central and Western parts of Tanzania with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. They are safety duplicated in the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICRISAT).
  25. Tanzania: The National Plant Genetic Resources Centre received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate 27 accessions of finger millet with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.
  26. Togo: The Institut Togolais de Recherche Agronomique (ITRA) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 34 pearl millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  27. Zimbabwe: The National Plant Genetic Resources Centre Zimbabwe received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate 15 finger millet accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop.