Pearl Millet   &   Sorghum

...The Cereals of Subsistence

Pearl Millet - For Image Click Here
 

  History

Pearl Millet is today the worlds sixth most important cereal grain. It is a decedent from a wild West African grass which grew in what is now the Sahara desert over 4000 years ago. It is currently planted on over 14 million acres in Africa upon which it is estimated 500 million people depend for their survival. Pearl Millet is the staple crop in the semi-arid region stretching over 7000 km from Sinagal to Somalia (almost 1/6 of the globe at the latitude), upon which African farmers produce 40% of the worlds millet.

Pearl millet grain is resistant to drought and it is a able crop in virtually any soil. It thrives on light textured and well drained soils.  Generally, pearl millet is considered more efficient in utilization of soil moisture and has a higher level of heat tolerance than does sorghum and maize. These facts make millet an important food staple all over the African continent, especially  in the semi-arid areas of the Western Shaeal where other crops tend to fail because inadequate rainfall and poor soil conditions. Pearl millet plants vary in panicle length, seed size, seed color, and plant height, depending on the cultivators and environments. Pearl Millet is mostly grown on community or private fields and consumed locally.

Links

  •  Lost Crops of Africa - Great book that is available online about the history and future uses of the staple grains of Africa (Highly Recommended)
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    Harvesting and Preparation

    Millet is taken from the field by removing the long grainy  head from the rest of the stock Before it can be used for food it must be processed to remove the uneatable portion of the husk. The millet is first threshed to remove the usable grain from the hard husk and break-up the grain into smaller more manageable pieces. Further separation is then done by manual pounding .  Grain is normally pounded with a wooden pestle in a wooden or stone mortar. It is common for the millet to first be moistened with about 10 percent water or soaked overnight to make the pounding easier. A woman working were hard can at best pound only 1.5 kg of grain per hour. After the usable portion of the grain has been separated by pounding the edible portion is removed winnowing or sieving. Winnowing is a process to separate grains from chaff by blowing air.  The whole content is thrown up in the air, and the grain and chaff get separated out by gravity. The lighter chafe is blow away leaving behind the heavier usable grain. The final step in processing millet is making flour. Traditional grinding stones used to grind grain to flour usually consist of a small stone which is held in the hand and a larger flat stone which is placed on the ground. Grain is crushed by the backward and forward movement of the hand-held stone on the lower stone. The work is very laborious, and it is hard work for anyone to grind more than 2 kg of flour in an hour.
     

    The following images show the progression of millet from crop to usable flour

    One month Pre-mature
       image 1

    Ready for Harvest
        image 1

    Post Harvest and Storage
       image 1
         image 2
         image 3

    Pounding
        image 1
           image 2
           image 3

    Winnowing
           image 1
     

    All of the above images are apart of the Africa Focus project at University of Wisconsin-Madison. University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. Africa Focus. 2000. http://africafocus.library.wisc.edu/.

     
    Millet Recipes

         Millet Drink

    Ingredients

         Clean the millet, removing the dust by screening.
         Soak the millet for 2 or 3 days until it is swollen.
         Remove from water and allow to dry.
         Pound the millet not too finely.
         Boil water and add the millet flour. Stir well until the mixture cooks and is smooth. Cook until done.
         Add sugar and let the mixture cool.
         Serve as is as a drink, or allow to stand until sour.


             Ingredients


             Cooking Instructions

            *This dish is often served as aa snack with honey or fruit chutney

     Source: http://www.recipesource.com/


     

    Research Links

    The following links provide information on some of the organizations working to increase the productivity and quality of Millet cultivation in the developing world.

    ICRISAT - International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics home page.

    CGIAR - Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research millet page

    Syngenta - Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

    Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. -  a DuPont company, is the world's leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics to farmers worldwide. millet page

    Pearl Millet - Information on Pearl Millet Research at Colorado State University
     
     

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    Sorghum - For Image Click Here
     
     

    History

    Sorghum originated in the north-eastern quadrant of Africa, where the greatest variability in wild and cultivated species are found to this day. Today it is the leading cereal grain on the African continent, and Nigeria is the worlds second largest producer of grain sorghum. The plant is rather drought resistant and is therefore an extremely important commodity that provides necessary food and feed for millions of people living in semi-arid environments worldwide. Sorghum is often ground into flour to make pancakes or mush. Sorghum is mainly grown as one of the major crops (often besides millet) on community or private fields and mostly consumed locally.

    Links

    The following images show the harvesting and processing of Sorghum into usable flour.

    Harvest
    image 1

    Cutting Tops of Sorghum
    image 1
    image 2

    Drying
    image 1

    Winnowing and Threshing
    image 1
    image 2
    image 3

    Making Flour
    image 1

    All of the above images are apart of the Africa Focus project at University of Wisconsin-Madison. University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. Africa Focus. 2000. http://africafocus.library.wisc.edu/.
     

     
    Sorghum Recipes

    Breakfast Porridge

    Ingredients

    Non fermented Drink (mageu)

     Pop Sorghum


     

    Research Links

    The following links provide information on some of the projects working to increase the productivity and quality of Sorghum cultivation in the developing world.

    West and Central African Sorghum Research Network

    CGIAR - Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research sorghum page

    National Grain Sorghum Producers - To lead the way in enhancing sorghum's competitive advantages by understanding and managing production challenges, research needs and market opportunities for  a growing sorghum industry

    Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. -  a DuPont company, is the world's leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics to farmers worldwide. sorghum  page

    International Programs in Agriculture - Purdue University lead Agricultural research on millet and sorghum

    ICRISAT - International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics home page.
     

     


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