Notes to broadcasters
Finger millet is a staple crop in many communities. It is a source of good, healthy food during difficult times, such as drought or crop failure. It’s relatively cheap and easy to grow and stores well for years. The Notes section at the end of the script gives different names for finger millet that are used in different countries.
And there are many other good reasons to grow finger millet. A single seed produces a lot of grains, so the seed is not expensive. It doesn’t need any extra fertilizer or water to grow well. And it’s seldom bothered by pests. Finger millet can be grown almost anywhere, including hilly areas, and you can plant it with other crops.
But one of the best things about finger millet is that it stores well for long periods of time.
This means that the seeds dry quickly. Insects can’t get inside them and damage the grain during storage. If you live in a humid area, the millet will store much longer than larger seed cereals like maize. It doesn’t rot when it’s stored during the wet months.
One of the best things about finger millet is that you can make nutritious food quickly. The small millet seeds take less time to cook.
And most of us don’t have a lot of time to spend cooking these days.
People in different countries prepare finger millet in different ways. In India, the crop is usually ground into flour for cakes, puddings or porridge. A fermented drink or beer is made from the grain. The grain can be malted. Flour from the malted grain makes a healthy food for babies and people who are sick or weak.
In Africa, finger millet is used to make porridge, bread, malt and beer. It can be mixed with cassava to make flour. It is also used for brewing. If you add a small amount of malted grain to a bowl of hot, starchy porridge … it turns into a watery liquid. You can feed it to small or weak babies. If you eat a lot of starchy foods like wheat, rice, maize and potatoes … the grain from finger millet helps make these foods easier for your body to digest.
Some people use the straw from finger millet as food for working and milking animals. It is also used for thatching, for making walls for small granaries and for making dishes.
So you see, finger millet has many uses.
Finger millet is a crop you can store and use when other crops are scarce. It doesn’t need extra water or fertilizer. And it’s cheap to grow because a lot of grains can be grown from a single seed. It can be grown year-round … when water is available.
Finger millet stores well because its small seeds dry quickly. It doesn’t rot when it’s stored during the wet months and it can be kept for years.
It doesn’t take long to prepare or cook finger millet. It’s healthy food for your family and it can be especially good for small babies and people who are weak or ill.
The straw can be used as food for your animals.
Thank you for being here today, Mrs. Mamba. I’ve enjoyed our talk and I’ve learned a lot about finger millet.
Think about growing finger millet as a healthy food for your family.
Researched by: Vijay Cuddeford, Researcher/writer, Toronto, Canada.
Written by: Carol Jamieson, Researcher/writer, Toronto, Canada.
Reviewed by: Vigneswaran Thievendaram, Agriculture specialist, Cambridge, Canada.
Common names for finger millet :
Afrikaans Vogel gierst
English Finger millet, African millet, koracan
French Petit mil, eleusine cultivee, coracan, koracan
Swahili Wimbi, ulezi
Ethiopia Dagussa (Amharic/Sodo), tokuso (amharic), barankiya (Oromo)
Kenya Wimbi (kiswahili), mugimbi (Kikuyu)
Malawi Mawere, lipoko, usanje, khakwe, mulimbi, lupodo, malesi, mawe
The Sudan Tailabon (Arabic), ceyut (Bari)
Tanzania Mwimbi, mbege
Zambia Kambale, lupoko, mawele, majolothi, amale, bule
Zimbabwe Rapoko, zviyo, njera, rukweza, mazhovole, uphoko, poho
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