Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is the most widely grown type of millet. It has been grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times. The center of diversity, and suggested area of domestication, for the crop is in the Sahel zone of West Africa. Recent archaeobotanical research has confirmed the presence of domesticated pearl millet on the Sahel zone of northern Mali between 2500 and 2000 BC. Cultivation subsequently spread and moved overseas to India. The earliest archaeological records in India date to around 2000 BC, and it spread rapidly through India reaching South India by 1500 BC, based on evidence from the site of Hallur. Cultivation also spread throughout eastern and southern Africa. Records exist for cultivation of pearl millet in the United States in the 1850s, and the crop was introduced into Brazil in the 1960s.
Pearl millet is well adapted to growing areas characterized by drought, low soil fertility, and high temperature. It performs well in soils with high salinity or low pH. Because of its tolerance to difficult growing conditions, it can be grown in areas where other cereal crops, such as maize or wheat, would not survive.
Today pearl millet is grown on over 260,000 km2 worldwide. It accounts for approximately 50% of the total world production of millets.
Read more about Bajri: Common Names For Pearl Millet
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