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Finger Millet Cultivation; Ragi Farming Techniques

Finger Millet Cultivation:

Introduction of Finger Millet Cultivation:- Finger millet is one of the important staple food crops mainly grown in Africa and India. Finger millet is originated in East Africa and eventually spread into Indian continent centuries back. Finger millet which is also called as “African millet”, “Koracan”, “Ragi” (India) is an annual herbaceous plant widely grown for its grains especially in Asia and African regions. This can be grown as a cereal crop in arid and semi-arid regions. The main advantage of this crop is, it can withstand drought conditions and grain shelf life is long. Finger millet is mainly cultivated in Zambia, Uganda, Sudan, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, India, and Nepal. In Asia, this crop can be grown as rainfed as well as irrigated. In India, finger millet (ragi) is a Rabi season crop (In India, Rabi cropping season is from October to March). However, it is also being grown under irrigated conditions. When it comes to plant and seed description, the finger millet plant can reach up 1 meter tall and its spike length ranges from 4 cm to 12 cm. The plant height and spike length depend on the variety. Generally, the color of grains/seeds varies from white through orange-red deep brown and purple, to almost black. The finger millet grains are small when compared to pearl millet grains.

Scientific Name/ Botanical Name of Finger Millet:- Eleusine coracana.

Family Name of Finger Millet:- Poaceae.

Genus of Finger Millet:- Eleusine.

Common Names of Finger Millet or Other Country Names:- Finger Hirsemehl (German), Vinger gierstmeel (Dutch), bajra ka aata (Urdu), Sõrme hirss jahu (Estonian), farina di miglio dito (Italian), Farinha de Millet dedo (Portuguese),

Songalag susu galu (Korean), Harina de mijo del dedo (Spanish), Fingeren hirse mel (Norwegian), Pirkstu prosa milti (Latvian), Shikokubie ko (Japanese), prst proso mouka (Czech), doigt farine de millet (French), пальцем муки проса (Russian), මිනේරි පිටි (Sinhalese), bột kê ngón tay (Vietnamese), parmak Darı un (Turkish), Finger Hirse mel (Danish), თითის ფეტვი ფქვილი (Georgian), and 穇子 (Taiwanese).

Finger Millet in Indian Languages:- Finger Millet (English),  Madua (Hindi, Bengali), Kezhvaragu (Tamil), Ragi / Moothari (Malayalm), Ragi (Kannada), Ragulu (Telugu), Bhav (Gujarati), Nachni (Marathi), and  Mandia (Oriya).

World Top 10 Production Countries of Millet:- The following are leading countries of millet production.

  1. India
  2. Nigeria
  3. Niger
  4. China
  5. Mali
  6. Burkina Faso
  7. Sudan
  8. Ethiopia
  9. Chad
  10. Senegal

Health Benefits of Finger Millet:-The following are some of the health benefits of Finger Millet (Ragi).

Health Benefits Of Finger Millet.
Health Benefits Of Finger Millet.
  • Finger Millet is a good source of proteins and minerals.
  • Finger Millet helps control diabetes.
  • Finger Millet helps in reducing bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • Finger Millet is good for heart health.
  • Finger Millet has anti-aging properties and makes you look young.
  • Helps in fighting with anemia since it has good iron content.
  • Finger millet helps in weight loss.
  • Regular consumption of Finger Millet (Ragi) may help to deal with anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Varieties of Finger Millets:- There are many improved and hybrid varieties grown across the world. However, CO 9, CO 13, CO (Ra) 14, TRY 1, Paiyur 1, CO 13, CO (Ra) 14, Paiyur 2, Godavari, Ratnagiri, Indaf 9, GPU 26, GPU 45, VR 708 are some of the finger millet varieties grown in India. Contact your horticulture department for a suitable hybrid/high yielding commercial variety of finger millet in your area.

Climate Requirement for Finger Millet Production:- Finger millet crop can be cultivated in the regions where annual rainfall is about 750 mm to 1200 mm. This crop is sensitive to high rainfalls and requires dry climatic conditions at grain ripening stage. Finger millet crop can be cultivated in altitudes of 1000 meter to 2000 meter with an average temperature of 28°C.

Soil Requirement for Finger Millet Production:- Finger millet crop mainly grown on red lateritic soils. However, soils rich in organic matter (fertile) with well-drainage are most ideal soils for finger millet cultivation. This crop prefers soil pH of 4.5 to 7.5.

Land Preparation for Finger Millet Production:- As seeds are small, it requires to prepare a fine seedbed for best germination. Give 4 to 5 ploughings to bring the soil to fine tilth stage. Make sure the field is weed free before planting. It is recommended to supplement the field with 5 to 6 tonnes of the well decomposed farm yard. After this, beds and channels should be formed. If the seedlings are grown on nursery beds, 3 weeks old seedlings can be transplanted in the main field.

Propagation of in Finger Millet:- Propagation of finger millet crop is done by seeds.

Finger Millet Grains (Ragi Seeds).
Finger Millet Grains (Ragi Seeds).

Seed Rate, Season, Sowing and Spacing of Finger Millet Plants:- Seed rate (when planted in furrows): 3 kg/ha with a spacing of 10 cm between seeds and 30 cm between rows. For transplanted crop, it may require 4 to 5 kg/ha with a spacing of 25 cm x 15 cm. If the population is too high at emergence, thin when plants are about 15 cm tall, 2 weeks after emergence. You can plant/sow the crop at the onset of monsoons by either drilling in furrows or hills. Broadcasting, Line Sowing, Drilling in rows and Transplanting the seedlings are main sowing methods in finger millet cultivation.

Irrigation for Finger Millet Crop:- First irrigation should be carried out on the day of transplanting. Though this crop is drought resistant, subsequent irrigations should be carried out at weekly intervals.

Manures and Fertilizers for  Finger Millet Crop:- Please see the land preparation for farmyard manure (FMY) requirement. When it comes fertilizers, N:P2O5: K2O @ 23 kg/ha each should be applied before sowing/planting. Subsequently, top dress with ‘N’ @ 23 kg/ha 3 weeks after sowing or planting.

Intercrops of Finger Millet:- Farmers can make extra income by adopting intercropping in Finger Millet cultivation. The following intercrops can be practiced in the field.

  • Finger millet – Pigeon pea
  • Finger millet – Black gram
  • Finger millet – Dolichos
  • Finger millet – Castor
  • Finger millet – Maize (Corn)
  • Finger millet – Foxtail millet
  • Finger millet – Sorghum
  • Finger millet – Little millet
  • Finger millet – Brassicas
  • Finger millet – Mustard

Intercultural Operations of Finger Millet Crop:-

Timely intercultural operations ensure healthy crop growth, higher yields and quality produce.

  • Weed Control: Weeding should be carried out twice; 2 to 3 weeks after emergence and about 2 weeks later after first weeding.
  • Crop Rotation: Rotate with legume crops like green gram, black gram, field gram, soybean, horse gram or peanut to minimize inorganic fertilizer application and also to obtain higher yields in finger millet cultivation. Never cultivate finger millet in the same field for consecutive years.

Pests and Diseases of Finger Millet Crop: Pink stem borer, Earhead bug, Aphids, Root aphid are common pests found in finger millet cultivation. For symptoms and control measures, talk to the technical person in your local horticulture department.

The most important disease affecting finger millet is a blast. This disease caused by “Pyricularia grisea”. To prevent this, use diseases resistant varieties and keep the field weed free.

Note: Your local horticulture department is a good source of finding information about pests and diseases in Finger Millet Cultivation. Don’t experiment on your own without knowing the symptoms and causes of pests and diseases.

Harvesting of Finger Millet:- Usually, finger millet crop will be ready for cutting 3 to 5 months after sowing, depending on the cultivar (variety), season and soil properties. Rain-fed millet crops should be cut close to the ground, stalks should be allowed to wither for 2 days in the field. Thereafter, they should be bundled and stacked for about 2 to 3 months before threshing. You should harvest the crop when ears of the spike are yellowish brown. Make sure to heap the harvested ears.

The yield of Finger Millet:- Yield of any crop depends on cultivars (variety), soil type, climate, irrigation, type of crop (irrigated or rain-fed) and other crop management practices. On average, one can obtain 10 to 15 q/ha in case of the rain-fed crop, whereas the irrigated crop yields up to 40 or 50 quintal/ha.

Marketing of Finger Millet:- You can transport the cleaned and graded grains to local markets or any related mills.

For Sorghum Growing: Read here.

Read: Advantages of Apartment Gardening.


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