Foxtail millet is a yearly grass grown for human food. The oldest evidence of foxtail millet cultivation was found along the ancient course of the Yellow River in Cishan, China, carbon-dated to be from 8700 BC. Foxtail millet has also been grown in India since antiquity and it was consumed as the staple food until three to four decades ago.
Currently, it is widely grown in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states. The total production in the world is 2.29 Mn MT from the area of 1.057 Mn Hectares.
Some of the vernacular names of Foxtail millet in different languages are Kakum in Hindi, Navane in Kannada, Kang in Gujrati, Kaon in Bengali, Kangni in Punjabi, Korralu in Telugu, Thina in Malayalam, Kang in Marathi, and Thinai in Tamil.
Foxtail millet is a Major Millet that is naked grain and requires no/less polishing for making it edible. Similar to the other millets, Foxtail millet is also a ‘smart’ crop which is good for People Health, Farmer and the Planet.
Foxtail millet has a sweet nutty flavour and provides a host of nutrients and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergic grains available. It contains fibre, protein, calcium, and vitamins. Especially, it has double the quantity of protein content compared to rice and helps to control blood sugar and cholesterol. It increases disease resistant capacity when consumed and is considered an ideal food for people suffering from diabetes and gastric problems. It is rich in dietary fibre and minerals such as copper and iron that keeps one’s body strong and immune. It is one of the recommended nutritive foods for children and pregnant women.
It is also a farmer-friendly crop by virtue of its drought and temperature resistance, and the efficiency to grow well with minimal water and other inputs. The yield of Foxtail millet is in the range of 1100 – 1500 kg per hectare in rainfed conditions, and the potential yield for the irrigated and properly managed conditions is up to 2500 kg per hectare.
These days, Foxtail millet is available as rice, flour, Ready-to-Cook products, Ready-to-Eat products and Instant foods. Unlike the olden days, it is convenient and tasty, in addition to its health qualities.
A wide range of recipes can be prepared with Foxtail millets such as Foxtail Millet Kheer, Cutlet, Bred, Bisebelle bath, Mango rice, and Biryani, to name a few.
(Content provided by Indian Institute of Millets Research)