Millet Production in India- An Agricultural Marvel - FeraxFarm

Millet production in India covers 15.48 million hectares. Millets are small-seeded grains cultivated for centuries in India and are known for their nutritional value and versatility.

In 2020, India played a significant role in global millet production, particularly in two varieties: Pearl Millet, also known as Bajra, and Sorghum, commonly referred to as Jowar.

These two millet varieties collectively contributed approximately 19% to the world’s production. Specifically, India’s Pearl Millet production accounted for 40.51% of the global output, while Sorghum contributed 8.09%.

This guide will provide detailed information on various aspects of millet production, from  government initiatives to cultivation and harvesting techniques, specific to the Indian context.

Nirmala Sitharaman’s Emphasis on the Importance of Millets in India

Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India, delivered a memorable speech on millet production in India, emphasizing their importance in the country.

Sitharaman’s speech reflected the government’s recognition of millet as a valuable resource that can contribute to a healthier and sustainable future for India’s agricultural sector.

She highlighted millets’ nutritional value and climate-resilient nature in her address, acknowledging them as a significant component of the country’s agriculture and food security.

The worthy finance minister underscored the government’s commitment to promoting millet cultivation and consumption through various initiatives, including awareness campaigns, research and development, and financial support to farmers.

She emphasized the need for collaborative efforts involving farmers, scientists, policymakers, and the private sector to harness millet’s potential fully.

Understanding Millets

Millet is a collective term for various small-seeded grasses belonging to the Poaceae family.

These ancient grains are gluten-free and rich in beneficial nutrients, making them an excellent choice for individuals with dietary restrictions.

Common types of millet include pearl millet, finger millet, foxtail millet, and proso millet. Each variety has its unique characteristics, growth requirements, and culinary uses.

Selecting the Right Millet Variety

Choosing the appropriate millet variety is crucial for successful cultivation. Factors such as climate, soil type, and intended use should be considered when selecting the millet variety.

For instance, pearl millet is well-suited to hot and dry climates, while finger millet thrives in cooler regions. In India, Rajasthan is the largest producer of pearl millet. 

Conduct thorough research or consult with agricultural experts to determine the ideal millet variety for your specific location and objectives.

Preparing the Soil for Millet Cultivation

Proper soil preparation sets the foundation for a productive millet crop. Begin by plowing the field to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, followed by harrowing to break up clumps and remove weeds.

Providing organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, improves soil fertility and structure. Millets prefer well-drained soils with a pH range of 6 to 8.

Sowing Millet Seeds

Millet seeds should be sown at the right time and depth to ensure optimal germination and growth. Prepare a seedbed by leveling the soil and creating rows with adequate spacing for easy access and irrigation.

The recommended sowing depth varies depending on the millet variety, but a general guideline is to sow seeds at a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Follow the seed manufacturer’s guidelines for precise seed rate and spacing instructions.

Also Read: 10 Types of Rice in India

Providing Optimal Growing Conditions

Millet crops require specific growing conditions to thrive. They prefer full sunlight, although some varieties can tolerate partial shade. Adequate spacing between rows ensures good air circulation and reduces the risk of diseases.

Regular weeding is essential to minimize competition for nutrients and water. Additionally, monitor the growth of the millet plants and provide the necessary support, such as staking, if required.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Implementing effective management strategies to protect your millet crop from pests and diseases is crucial. Regularly inspect the plants for infestation or disease symptoms, such as wilting, discoloration, or unusual growth patterns.

Depending on the issue, various pest control methods, such as biological control, crop rotation, or the judicious use of pesticides, can be employed. Consult local agricultural extension services for guidance on pest and disease management specific to your region.

Watering and Irrigation

Proper watering and irrigation are vital for millet production. Millets have varying water requirements, so it’s essential to understand the needs of the specific variety you are cultivating.

Generally, millets require regular watering, especially during critical growth stages like germination and flowering. Adequate moisture is crucial, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to waterlogging and adversely affect the crop’s health.

Maintaining optimal nutrient levels in the soil is essential for maximizing millet yields. Conduct soil tests to determine the existing nutrient content and identify any deficiencies.

Based on the results, apply appropriate organic or inorganic fertilizers to replenish the nutrient levels. Additionally, consider implementing sustainable practices such as crop rotation and cover cropping to enhance soil fertility and reduce reliance on external inputs.

Millet Harvesting Techniques

Harvesting millets at the right time ensures maximum yield and quality. The ideal harvesting time varies depending on the millet variety and intended use.

For instance, if the millet is intended for grain production, harvest when the grains have reached the desired moisture content and the panicles, have turned golden brown.

On the other hand, if the millet is cultivated for forage, harvest when the plants are at their nutritional peak.

Post-Harvest Handling and Storage

Proper post-harvest handling and storage practices play a significant role in maintaining quality and preventing losses. Thresh the harvested millet to separate the grains from the stalks.

Clean the grains to remove any impurities or foreign matter. Ensure proper drying to reduce moisture content and prevent mold formation.

Finally, store the millet in clean, dry, and well-ventilated containers to safeguard against pest infestation and maintain freshness.

India’s Major Millet Production (2021-2022)

estimated millet production of India

State Wise Millet Production in India (2021-2022)

state wise millet production


Why are Millets Considered Important ‘Nutri-Cereals’?

Millets are considered vital “Nutri-cereals” due to their unique nutritional profile and health benefits. Here are some reasons why millets hold such significance:

High Nutritional Value: Millets contain essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, protein, vitamins (including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin), and minerals (such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium).

They offer a well-rounded nutrient composition, making them valuable to a balanced diet.

Gluten-Free: Millets are naturally gluten-free, making them an excellent dietary choice for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. These grains offer a safe and nutritious alternative to wheat, barley, and rye for those who need to avoid gluten.

Rich in Dietary Fiber: Millets are an excellent source of dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber. This fiber aids digestion, promotes bowel regularity, and helps maintain a healthy gut.

Including millet in your diet can improve digestive health and reduce the risk of conditions such as constipation, diverticulosis, and colon cancer.

Low Glycemic Index: Millets have a lower glycemic index than refined grains, which means they are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a slower and steadier release of glucose into the bloodstream.

This property is beneficial for managing blood sugar levels, making millet a suitable choice for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to control their blood sugar.

Potential Weight Management: Due to their high fiber content and slower digestion rate, millets can promote satiety and help control appetite. Including millet in your diet may aid in weight management and prevent overeating, contributing to maintaining a healthy body weight. 

Antioxidant Properties: Some millet varieties, such as finger millet (ragi), contain antioxidants like phenolic compounds. Antioxidants help protect the body against oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and support overall cellular health.

Versatile Culinary Uses: Millets offer a wide range of culinary possibilities. They can be used in various dishes, including porridge, pilafs, salads, bread, and baked goods. Millets’ versatility allows for creative and nutritious meal options while adding diversity to the diet.

Given these compelling reasons, incorporating millets into your diet can contribute to overall health and well-being. Their nutritional value, gluten-free nature, and various health benefits make millet valuable to a balanced and wholesome eating plan.

Government Measures to Increase Millet Production

The Indian government has undertaken several measures to promote and increase millet production in the country. These initiatives aim to enhance millet cultivation, improve farmers’ livelihoods, ensure nutritional security, and help sustainable agriculture.

Let’s explore some essential government programs for increasing millet production.

Integrated Cereals Development Programmes

Under the Central government’s “Revised Macro Management of Agriculture” program, an integrated wheat development program is being implemented.

This program aims to improve agricultural production and productivity in the country. States have been given the flexibility to design and implement the program according to their regional objectives and development priorities.

This approach allows for tailored strategies based on each state’s specific needs.

Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion (INSIMP)

In 2011, the government launched the INSIMP initiative, which promotes “Nutri-cereals,” including millets, to enhance the nation’s millet production and improve nutritional security. The plan aims to cultivate millets on 0.5 million hectares of land.

This is a significant step considering that the area under millet cultivation in India has decreased by 60% since the 1960s, leading to a decline in cereal production.

Despite millets being more nutrient-dense than rice and wheat, their consumption has decreased due to government food restrictions.

INSIMP seeks to reverse this trend by supporting farmers, including providing urea and pesticide kits, seed kits with hybrid seeds, and promoting post-harvest handling and value addition.

Rainfed Area Development Programme (RADP)

The Rainfed Area Development Program is a sub-scheme of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) implemented by the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

This program focuses on improving the productivity of rainfed areas through sustainable farming practices.

The RADP program aims to enhance agricultural productivity, diversify farming methods, and improve the standard of living for small and marginal farmers in rainfed areas.

By implementing an Integrated Farming System (IFS), which combines multiple agricultural activities, the program aims to increase farm returns, reduce the impact of climate variability, and improve the long-term viability of rainfed agriculture.

APEDA Action Plan

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is developing a strategy in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) to promote millets and millet products.

This five-year action plan focuses on expanding the export potential of Indian millets and creating a platform to connect farmers and other stakeholders.

The scheme aims to identify millet clusters, discover new international markets, and harness the growing demand for millet domestically and internationally.


Millet production in India is vital to the country’s agricultural landscape and food security. With its rich nutritional content and resilience to adverse environmental conditions, millets have garnered attention as a sustainable crop option.

The Indian government, recognizing the significance of millets, has implemented various initiatives and programs to promote their cultivation. State-wise production in India showcases the diverse geographical spread and the contribution of different regions.

As India continues to focus on enhancing millet production, it supports the nutritional needs of its population and contributes significantly to global millet production.

With sustained efforts and favorable policies, the future of millet production in India appears promising, fostering a healthier and more sustainable agricultural sector.


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