Millets for the Future: CSIR-CFTRI’s Trailblazing Research, Technologies & Products

Meera MS, Usha Dharmaraj, Sreerama YN, Sathyendra Rao BV and Sridevi Annapurna Singh


Millets are a diverse group of small, dryland cereals that include sorghum, pearl millet, finger, foxtail, little, kodo, barnyard, brown top millet, among others (Fig. 1). Millets are primarily grown in Asia and Africa, with India being the top producer. Millets were among the first plants to be domesticated and still serve as a traditional staple crop and are thus named as ancient grains. In India, their production and consumption date back to the Vedic ages.

The FAO estimates that the global production of millets is 89.17 million metric tonnes from an area of 74 million hectares. India is the world's largest producer of millets accounting for around 19% of total worldwide output.

Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand are the major millet-producing states in India. Today, these 10 states accounted for around 98 percent of millets output in India throughout the 2020-21 decade.

Although millets were consumed for centuries, their consumption, production, and popularity declined as fine cereals viz., rice and wheat were available in abundance. Millets were confined mostly to traditional consumers because of their coarseness and texture.

However, in recent years, millets are gaining popularity due to their unique nutritional profile and their ability to control and ameliorate lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer, etc. As whole grains, millets are a good source of essential nutrients. Millets have superior nutritional value compared to cereals such as rice, wheat and maize, owing to their bio-macromolecules and phytochemicals. Millets along with a few more grains are aptly referred to as “Nutricereals”…read more on NOPR