Pearl Millet Crop Management and Seed Production Manual uri icon


  • Pearl millet is a major warm season coarse grain cereal grown on 26 million ha in some of theharshest semi-arid tropical environments of Asia and Africa. India has the largest area (9?10 millionha) under this crop, ranking it third along with sorghum. It is cultivated in the most sandy, infertilesoils and droughty environments (eg, arid Rajasthan) where no other cereal crop can survive. Evenunder these conditions, pearl millet yields 300?400 kg ha-1 of grain. Pearl millet hybrids maturing in80?85 days, when cultivated as an irrigated summer season crop in parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat andUttar Pradesh states of India, have been reported to give as high as 4000?5000 kg ha-1 of grain yield.Pearl millet grains have high protein content, balanced amino acid profile, and high levels of iron,zinc, and insoluble dietary fiber. Eggs produced from layers fed on a diet of pearl millet have muchlower levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) than those fed on a maize-based diet. These adaptive andnutritional features combined with high yield potential make pearl millet an important cereal cropthat can effectively address the emerging challenges of global warming, water shortages, landdegradation and food-related health issues.Farmers cultivating pearl millet continue to be plagued by uncertain and low economic returnswhen production falls and also when production increases (due to low prices). This serves as adeterrent for farmers to invest in improved crop management, although the latter can play aneffective dual role in increasing productivity and enhancing production stability. The demand forpearl millet grain is likely to increase with its increasing use as poultry and animal feed. Thisdemand can further increase if pearl millet enters the commercial convenience foods channel,thereby increasing grain price. In turn, this will lead to greater investment in crop management andconsequently productivity enhancement.The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and NationalAgricultural Research System (NARS) in India have played a pioneering role in developing a diverserange of improved breeding lines and parental lines of potential hybrids. These lines have been usedextensively by breeding programs in both the public and private sectors to develop andcommercialize a large number of hybrids (more than 70 were under cultivation in 2006). Thesehybrids are cultivated on 50% of the total pearl millet area, leading to 65% increase in grain yieldduring the past 20 years.Since its inception in 1974, the All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project(AICPMIP) has developed production-protection technologies specific to agro-ecoregions ofdifferent states. Their application holds the promise of further enhancing the productivity ofimproved cultivars to commercial farming scales, and hence increasing the profitability of theircultivation, similar to the one witnessed in the seed production sector.This lucid and comprehensive manual on pearl millet crop management and seed production byAICPMIP and ICRISAT scientists delves into pearl millet biology, its distribution and climaticrequirements; and various aspects of crop management and seed production. Though writtenprimarily in the context of agriculture in India, its contents have a wider application for students,teaching and training personnel, extension workers and farmers interested in development, cropmanagement and seed production and marketing of pearl millet

publication date

  • 2007