Pearl Millet is
an important coarse grain crop in Pakistan specially in areas where
drought is common, despite its economic importance this crop has
received little attention compared with wheat, rice and maize. It is
grown in most districts south of latitude 34 0N, but is
particularly important in: Gujrat, Gujranwala, Chakwal, Mianwali,
Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum in Punjab;
Hyderabad, Khairpur, Dadu, Nawabshah and Sanghar in Sindh; Lorali,
Khuzdar and Sibbi in Balochistan; and Bunnu, Karak, D.I.Khan in NWFP.
About 90% of the
grain produced is used on the farm as food and as seed. The little
surplus is sold mainly as seed for the fodder crop in the irrigated
areas where farmers do not keep their own seed. Since the crop is
grown for grain as well as for fodder production from February to
August, it is difficult to assess the cropped area and production
accurately. However, according to the Agricultural Statistics of
Pakistan (1998-99), the average area under millet during 1998-99 was
about 463,000 hectares. About 60.7% of this area was in Punjab,
37.8% in Sindh, 0.1% in Balochistan and 1.4% in NWFP (Table-1).
The percentage of the
total area for grain production is not known exactly. According to
some estimates, at least 50% of the irrigated and 25% of the rain
fed millet area is harvested exclusively for fodder before the
grains are formed.
The total production
of millet grain in Pakistan during the period 1998-99 was about 213
thousand tonnes as compared to 211 thousand for the period 1997-98.
averages of millet area, production and yield in Pakistan.
About 90% of the
grain of this crop produced, is used on the farm as food and seed.
The little surplus is sold mainly as seed for the fodder crop in the
irrigated areas where farmers do not keep their own seed. Recently
with the expansion in poultry production, the demand for coarse
grains including millet grain has risen substantially. The millet
stovers, after the harvest of grains, is used as a dry fodder,
particularly during the winter months when fodder is usually scarce.
In addition, millet crop is grown specially for production of green
fodder, particularly in irrigated areas near towns.
(a) Rotation and
Crop Association: In the irrigated and relatively high-rainfall
areas, a millet - wheat rotation is common. However, in some parts
of Sindh, two-year rotations of millet-wheat-cotton-fallow, or
millet-spring maize-rice-brassica are also followed. In the
unirrigated areas which are too dry for other crops, millet may be
grown on the same piece of land each year. Mostly millet is grown as
a sole crop, but sometimes it is intercropped with other crops such
as sesame, mong and mellon in the plains of Baluchistan and with
guar and mellon in NWFP.
Preparation: Tractors are increasingly being used for land
preparation, but bullock power is still important in millet growing
areas. The recommended practice is to plough the land twice
immediately after harvest to burry the stubbles and weeds, and once
or twice at sowing to prepare a fine seed bed followed by planking
to conserve moisture. However, land preparation is usually
inadequate, particularly in moisture-stress areas farmed by
resource-poor farmers, where the land is usually ploguhed only once.
c) Sowing Date:
In the rainfed "barani" areas, millet is sown with the
start of monsoon rains, usually during the first fortnight of July.
In areas irrigated by hill torrents, e.g. in D.G. Khan, D.I. Khan
and the plains of Baluchistan, the sowing period is usually from
mid- July to mid-August, depending on the arrival of the flood
water. In central Punjab, irrigated millet, mainly for fodder, is
grwon from May to July. In Sindh, millet for fodder may be grwon
from February to July, but for grain production, sowing is delayed
to June-July to avoid flowering in July-August when the temperatures
are extremely high.
d) Sowing Method:
Different sowing methods are used. The most common are:i)
broadcasting the seeds and covering them by a cultivator;ii) the
"Kera" method of dropping the seed by hand in furrows
created by a bullock - drawn plough and covered by feet; & iii)
"Pora" method in which a locally made sort of a single-
row drill pulled by bullock or man is used. Broadcasting is the
quickest and cheapest sowing method, but it often results in uneven
germination due to placement of seeds at different depths.
e) Seed Rate:
Different seed rates are used depending on the variety, moisture
level and relative importance of grain and forage. For grain
production, the seed rate commonly used is 10-12 kg/ha. For fodder
production, the seed rate is used as 20-30 kg/ha.
The number and frequency of irrigations vary with the climatic and
soil conditions and growth duration of the variety. Usually, four to
five irrigations are sufficient in most areas of the country.
As far as application of inputs to millet crop is concerned, this
crop has been neglected. Most of the farmers plant this crop on
marginal lands and use no fertilizer. However the recommended dose
of fertilzer is 90 kg Nitrogen and 45 kg P2 O5 for irrigated areas
and 60 kg Nitrogen and 30 kg P2 O5 for rainfed areas.
h) Weed control:
No herbicides are used. In case of the kera and pora methods of
sowing, weeds may be controlled by interculture using the desi
plough. When sowing is done by broadcasting, only hand weeding is
of Pearl Millet:
Millet crop is
attacked by several diseases including, downy mildew, grain molds
and covered kernel smut. Although covered smut can be easily and
cheaply controlled by treating the seed with fungicide but no such
treatment is used, and heavy incidence of this disease is reported
particularly in Sindh province.
Pearl millet crop takes 80 to 90 days to mature depending on the
variety. Therefore when the crop is planted in 1st week of July
becomes ready for harvesting by the end of September or 1st week of
October. The mature heads are cut manually using sickles. The cut
heads are spread on clean floor for sun drying. In most areas,
threshing is done by walking animals over the harvested heads. Some
grain is usually lost due to the inefficient harvesting method. No
thresher has been developed for this crop so far.
responsible for low productivity of millet in Pakistan are:
i) Grain millet is
grown mainly in marginal areas under moisture stress conditions.
ii. The varieties
grown are mostly unimproved mixed land-races grown for both grain
and fodder production but are poor producers for either purpose.
iii) The plant
stands, particularly in rainfed areas, are usually poor because of
inadequate land preparation, in-efficient sowing method, poor
quality seeds and poor emergence through hot, dry crusted soil
soil fertility in most of the millet growing areas is depleted and
no fertilizers are added.
can be a serious problem, specially in the rainfed areas where heavy
rains during July and August may preclude weeding. No proper weeding
is done for control of weeds.
Millet is also attacked by several diseases including, Downy mildew,
Grain molds and Covered kernel smut. Although covered smut can be
easily and cheaply controlled by treating the seed with fungicide
but no such treatment is used, and heavy incidence of this disease
is reported particularly in Sindh province.
some high-yielding exotic varieties have been identified, and some
have even been released, these have not yet been spread among
farmers, either because of intrinsic shortcomings (such as poor
grain quality, short stature resulting in low fodder yield, late
maturity & poor germination, emergence and establish-ment under
moisture-stress conditions) or because they have not been adequately
tested and demonstrated in farmers fields and there is no efficient
seed production and distribution system. Thus mostly mixed local
land races are grown in Pakistan at present. Detail of the improved
varieties of millet developed by different Provincial Cooperating
Research Institutes of Cooperating Research Programme on Sorghum and
Millet is given here under:-
MMRI, Y/wala Tall
ACHIEVEMENTS IN PEARL
total of 517 entries of millet have been had from ICRISAT in the
form of nurseries and replicated trials and distributed to the
Provincial Cooperating Units for use in the breeding programme.
Pearl Millet varieties PARC-MS-1, PARC-MS-2, PARC-MS-3,
PARC-MS-4 and PARC-MS-5 have been developed at NARC. The grain
yield potential of these varieties ranges from 2000 to 2500
Millet variety WC-C-75 introduced from ICRISAT India has been
identified resistant to downymildew.
line selection in the local millet types grown in Potohar area
and around Islamabad has been proved very effective. 2947 heads
collected from farmer's fields were grown in a head to a row
system, out of which some 123 have been selected on the basis of
overall promising performance.
optimum sowing date under rainfed conditions could vary with the
variety. However, early sowing could give better results if good
moisture conditions prevail. As such 1st week of July is
recommended for having significant yields.
plant population for tall, intermediate and dwarf millet
varieties is recommended as 1,00,000, 1,50,000 and 2,00,000
level of 60 kg N and 30 kg P2 O5/ha has
been recommended for millet crop under rainfed conditions and 90
kg N and 45kg P2 O5 under irrigated
technology developed using improved sorghum variety with
improved cultural practices has been demonstrated through FSR
trials on farmers' fields and the results obtained reveal that
the improved variety with improved practice produced grain yield
of 1276 kg/ha as against 400 kg/ha from farmers' variety with
kg pre-basic seed of improved varieties of millet PARC- MS-1 and
PARC-MS-2 was produced and distributed to the farmers, in
view of the afore mentioned situation and status of this crop,
the following recommendations are made to enhance the
productivity of this crop and hence the desired goals could be
1. Millet as food
grain can play a vital role in supplementing wheat/rice supplies.
Presently more than one million tones of wheat is used in poultry
feeds which is because the price of wheat (Rs 240/= per 40 kg) is
lesser than the millet (Rs 600/= per 40 kg). The use of millet in
poultry feeds is only possible when the price falls below the price
of wheat and this way wheat can be saved which will be used for
human beings and will help reduce imports saving foreign exchange.
The strategy therefore, should be to increase its production without
disturbing production of other major food and cash crops which is
only possible with the development of high yielding varieties
coupled with improved production technology. Hence introduction and
evaluation of better crop varieties and improved production systems
can help achieve the desired results.
2. The chances for
horizontal expansion in millet production in Pakistan are limited.
The increase in production has to come, therefore, mainly from
higher yields per unit area.
3. Most of the
on-going research on millet in the provinces at present is conducted
under irrigation, whereas, for grain production, these crops are
grown mainly on lands depending on rains directly or in the form of
hill torrents. It is, recomm-ended that the target areas in each
province be specified clearly and that the research programmes be
oriented towards developing improved technologies suitable for
specific target areas. This may require establishment of new
experiment stations, substations or just more testing sites to serve
the main production areas.
Although priorities in the breeding programme may differ from one
area to another, the main aspects that deserve special attention
Dual-purpose varieties: in view of the importance of millet
stover for animal feeding in Pakistan, breeding of dual-purpose
(grain-cum-fodder) varieties should be considered a priority area in
the breeding programme. Thus, besides grain yield and quality,
forage yield as well as quality in terms of leafiness, and ability
to tiller, production of fine stems should be among the criteria for
Early maturity: there is a need for early-maturing varieties
that fit in cropping sequences and that permit crop intensification
and better utilization of the available land and water resources.
Productivity should be viewed as yield per unit area per unit time
rather than yield per unit area only.
Suitable production practices must be developed in order to realize
the high-yield potential of the new varieties. It is, therefore,
recommended that the research effort in development of improved
production technology be augmented and reoriented to have a farming
system perspective so that the developed technology will have a high
probability of being adopted by farmers.
In Pakistan tractor use is increasing but there is no corresponding
expansion in the use of specialized implements. In order to
modernize millet production and render it a competitive enterprise
there is need to encourage mechanization to reduce cost of
production and to raise productivity through timely and efficient
One of the main shortcomings of the millet improvement workin
Pakistan that warrants immediate attention is the non-existence or
weakness of research activities on farmers' fields. Because
conditions on farmers' fields are different from those existing at
research stations, on-farm research with a farming system
perspective is considered an essential stepin the development of
The private sector, which is more efficient than the public sector
in seed production and distribution, finds it more attractive to
invest in hybrid seed production than in open-pollinated varieties
because of the closed parentage and the need to purchase hybrid seed
each year. The private sector may be encouraged.
The seed production and multiplication programme is almost non
existent for this crop. Provincial Seed Corporations and other
Organizations should make it mandatory to produce seed of this crop.
Emphasis be made on hybrid seed production for millet crop.
A National Coarse Grain Crops Research Institute may be established
under the auspices of Pakistan Agrl. Res. Council.
The Existing Research Institutes in the provinces and Coordinated
Research Programmes are proposed to be strengthened.
Pests and disease management, cultural practices and package of
technology may be developed by research institutes and disseminated
to the growers.
Measures be taken to rectify marketing imperfections for this
the millet produced is consumed on the farm. As there is no proper
procurement system and no established markets for millet grain, the
farmer has every reason to question the capacity of the market to
absorb the surplus produce at a price that assures him an economic
return. consequently he has no incentive to increase his production
much beyond his own requirements.
Agriculture Research Council