Known in other English names as common millet, broomtail millet, hog millet, white millet, broomcorn millet, hershey, etc., the proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is a cereal plant cultivated for its grain, mostly in Asia and North America. The word ‘Proso’, is an ancient Slav name which is used in Russia and Poland indicating how widely the grain was domestically distributed in these regions. Cultivated for its grain mostly, proso millet also produces enough plant material to be considered a forage crop. The forage quality of the straw is poor, and in India it is more often used for bedding than for cattle. The straw is also made into brooms. Panicum miliaceum may be a useful catch crop for emergency fodder. It was introduced into North America in the 16th century. Its popularity declined in Europe and the United States after the introduction of the potato and maize. It remains cultivated for human consumption mainly in eastern and central Asia, and to a lesser extent in eastern Europe (Russia, Danube region) and from western Asia to Pakistan and India. Most soils are suitable for proso millet, except coarse sand. It requires a temperate climate but is very adaptable and can be grown in too hot and arid climates or in rain shadow areas also. Sometimes the too shallow soils which are unfit for other cereal cultivation is good enough for Proso Millet. July-July is the right time for growing Proso Millet. Lowest requirement of water is needed for its growth but frost is bad for the crop. It is also beneficial in a crop rotation as it enhances weed control.
The so-called "seed" or "grain" of Proso Millet is the somewhat egg-shaped fertile floret in which the hull is hard and shiny and firmly encloses the seed when it is shed. The grains are about 3 mm long by 2 mm wide and their color varies from brownish black through olive brown, orange-red, golden and light cream. Proso Millet grain can be used for human consumption, livestock feed and as bird seed.
Initially originated in China, Proso Millet is cultivated in India, Russia, and Middle East, Turkey etc. Being the cheaper source of manganese as compared to spices and nuts, Proso Millet is grown for its health benefits like it is gluten free, has significant amount of carbohydrates, and healthy minerals in abundance plus this Millet can be grown very easily. Considering its usefulness, Proso Millet needs to be stored carefully. Basically given a dry and warm condition it can be stored for two to three years easily. It is eaten both as whole grain and cooked. Proso Millet Flour is added in a variety of dishes to make them better digestible and wholesome. Eaten as a salad ingredient or fried with vegetables or even as a breakfast meal, it is an all-purpose grain which can also be brewed as beer. It is time one should get rid of the idea that Proso Millet is a poor man’s food or a bird feed and process it technically so that its benefits can be harnessed for the upliftment of human growth.
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