Commercial millet farming is a very old and popular business for making money. Millet is actually one of the two major crops in the semiarid, impoverished, less fertile agriculture regions of Africa and southeast Asia.
Millets are actually a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses. They are widely grown around the world mainly as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food.
Millets are generally small-grained, annual, warm-weather cereals belonging to the grass family. They are highly tolerant of drought and other extreme weather conditions and have a similar nutrient content to other major cereals.
Most species of millet generally referred to as millets belong to the tribe paniceae, but some millets also belong to various other taxa.
Millets are very important crops in some areas of the world, especially in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Nigeria, Niger and Mali, with 97% of total millet production in these developing countries).
Commercial millet production is very popular in these countries, mainly due to it’s productivity and short growing season under dry and high-temperature conditions.
Millets are actually indigenous to many parts of the world. And the most widely grown millets are pearl millets and sorghum. Both pearl millets and sorghum are important crops in India and some parts of Africa. Finger millet, proso millet, and foxtail millet are also important crop species.
Global production of millet was 30.5 million tones in the year of 2020, led by India with 41% of the world total. Niger also had significant production.
However, commercial millet farming is very easy and require less time and investment. You can easily start this business for making money.
Uses of Millet
Millets may have been consumed by humans for about 7,000 years and potentially had “a pivotal role in the rise of multi-crop agriculture and settled farming societies.”
Various alcoholic beverages are produced from millets in India. Millet is also the base ingredient for the distilled liquor rakshi.
A 100-gram reference serving of raw millet provides 378 kilocalories of food energy and is a rich source of protein, dietary fiber, several B vitamins and numerous dietary minerals, especially manganese at 76% DV. Raw millet is 73% carbohydrates, 11% protein, 9% water and 4% fat.
Advantages of Millet Farming Business
Like many other commercial crop farming business, large scale millet farming has also numerous advantages. It’s very easy to start this business and even the beginners can start easily.
Commercial millet farming is profitable and it can be a great income source for the people. However, here we are tying to describe the top advantages of commercial millet farming business.
- Starting commercial millet farming is very easy and simple. Even the beginners can start this business easily.
- Commercial production of millet is profitable, so it can be great income source for the people.
- Commercial production of millet is already an established business and many people are doing this business for making money.
- Many farmers are already doing this business, so you don’t have to worry much about starting and operating millet farming business.
- Millet plants are very strong and hardy. They generally require less caring and other management. So, cultivating millets commercially is relatively easy and simple.
- Both demand and value of millet are good in the market. So, profits will also be good from this business.
- Marketing millets and millet products is very easy. Because both demand and value of millets are high in the market.
- As commercial production of millet is profitable, so it can be a great employment source for the people. Especially for the educated but unemployed people.
- Production costs are relatively less in commercial millet farming business.
- Water and labor requirements are also relatively less in commercial millet production.
- Millets are nutritious and good for human health. You can enjoy fresh millets if you start your own millet production.
How to Start Millet Farming
Starting commercial millet farming is very easy and simple. It is just like starting and operating wheat, oats or barley farming business. You can start this business easily even if you are a beginner.
Although, we recommend having practical knowledge from existing farmers before starting commercially. However, here we are trying to describe more about this business from planting, caring to harvesting and marketing.
First of all, you have to select a very good and suitable land for starting your millet farming business. Millets generally grow well on well-drained loamy soils.
But they will not stand water-logged soils or extreme drought. Proso millet doesn’t grow and produce good on coarse, sandy soils. A pH level of 5.6 or higher is recommended for millet.
Prepare the Soil
Preparing the soil is also very important for better growth of the plant and also for good production. So, try to prepare the soil perfectly before planting.
Ploughing 2-3 times will be good for making the land weed free, and then apply 3-4 harrowing for conserving moisture into the soil. Add as much organic content as you can while preparing the soil.
Climate Requirement For Millet Farming
Millet plants require warm temperature for germination and development, and they are sensitive to frost. That’s why they are generally planted from mid-June to mid-July month.
Optimum soil temperature for seed germination are between 20°C and 30°C. Millets are often grown as catch crops where other crops have failed due to unfavorable weather.
Proso and foxtail millet are efficient users of water and grow well in areas of low moisture, partly because they are early and thereby avoid periods of drought.
Choose a Variety
There are many varieties of millets available to choose from. You can consult with a local farmer in your area for having good recommendations. Most common and popular millet varieties are;
- Pearl Millet or Sajjalu
- Ragi or Finger Millet
- Korralu or Foxtail Millet
- Kodo Millet and
- Proso Millet
Propagation of millet is very easy and simple and it is done through seeds.
Millet seeds are easily available in the market. You will be able to purchase the seeds easily from your nearest seed supply stores. You can also consider purchasing the seeds from online suppliers.
Seedbed preparation for millet is related to that for spring-seeded small grains. You must control the weeds prior to planting and the seedbed should be firm and well-worked.
For proso millet, a seeding rate of 20 lb per acre is suggested. Foxtail millet must be sown at a rate of 15 lbs per acre.
Millets seeds are generally seeded with a grain drill at a depth of one inch. Even though the seeds are small, they can develop extreme elongation of the first internodes and even deeper unless a hard crust forms.
Press wheels on the drill will increase seedbed firmness and aid in stand establishment. Millets compete poorly with weeds, therefore high seedling rates are essential to establish a dense stand.
Millets are very strong and hardy plants, and they generally require less caring and other management. Although, taking additional caring will help the plants to grow well and produce more. Here we are tying to describe more about the caring process of millets.
Nitrogen is usually the most limiting nutrient in millet farming. Amount of nitrogen must be based on yield goals and cropping history. Phosphorus and potassium should be applied as needed based on soil recommendations.
Watering or irrigation is not required for millet farming in most cases. Millet production is mostly dependent on rain water.
Weeds consume nutrients from the soil and the millet plants will suffer. So, controlling them is very important. Manual weeding is recommended.
Pests & Diseases
Like many other commercial crops, millets are also susceptible to some common pests and diseases. Here we are trying to describe the most common pests and diseases of the millet plants.
Diseases & Their Control
Head smut, grain mold and kernel smut are the main diseases of the millet plants.
Pests & Their Control
Grasshoppers and wheat curl mite are the common pests of the millet plants.
Consult with your local agriculture extension office or any expert farmer in your area to know more about controlling all these pests and diseases.
Millets become ready for harvesting when the seeds in the upper half of the panicle are mature. Seeds in the lower half of the panicle may still be in the dough stage but must have lost their green color. The leaves and stems may still be green at this point.
Millets are generally harvested by swathing to allow drying of straw before combining. Swathing too early reduces yield, test weight and color quality.
It’s very tough to tell the exact amount, because it depends on numerous factors such as farm management, seed quality, millet variety etc.
Marketing millets is very easy and simple. You will be able to easily sell your products in the local market. Although, determining marketing strategies before starting this business will be very good.
These are the common steps and ways for starting and operating a successful millet farming business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!