Millet is a centuries-old grain that has been loved by humans for thousands of years. Millet usage as a feed for animals and birds is one of its applications. More so, millet farming is gaining popularity in Kenya due to its quick growth, drought resistance, and cheap input requirements.
Millets are a category of small-seeded grains that are commonly grown in semi-arid, dry climates. Pearl millet, finger millet, foxtail millet, and prosso millet are among them. They have a short growing season, can tolerate drought and high temperatures, and still produce well, making them crucial food security crops in Kenya’s semi-arid areas.
Millets are widely grown for human consumption or as animal fodder. The grains have a similar nutritional profile to maize, although they are higher in protein and fibre. They go nicely in traditional Nigerian dishes like Ugali and Uji. Millet crop wastes make building material and firewood for cooking, in addition to grain and forage/fodder, especially in arid terrain locations. Because of the nutritional value of millets.
Factors to consider in millet farming
Finger millet thrives at greater elevations than most other tropical cereals and tolerates salinity better than most cereals, making it particularly adaptable to a wide range of environmental and climatic circumstances.
It thrives in a climate with moderate rainfall (750-900mm), an annual temperature range of 15-28°C, and fertile, well-draining sandy loam soil with a pH of 5-8.
During seed ripening and maturation, areas with minimal rainfall and low relative humidity are ideal for regeneration.
Soil testing is the cornerstone of good nutrient management for millet cultivation. Soil testing determines the level of nutrients in the soil before planting. For high millet yields in Kenya, fertilizer management that delivers adequate but not excessive plant nutrients is critical.
With a 3 foot soil sampling depth, nitrogen recommendations for millet. In general, all nitrogen fertilizer sources are effective. Urea-based fertilizers (urea and urea ammonium nitrate solutions) are widely used and helps to avoid nitrogen volatilization (gaseous loss as ammonia).
Potassium, phosphorus, and zinc are some of the other nutrients millet need. administration of fertilizers high in these nutrients follow the results of the soil test.
Broadcasting or planting the seeds in furrows are the most common methods of sowing.
Because the seeds are so little, the seedbed should be properly prepared to a fine tilth.
Finger millet should be sown as soon as possible after the first rains of the season. The bigger the yields, the earlier the planting.
The crop can be grown as a stand-alone crop or intercropped with other crops such as maize, beans, and cowpeas.
Within a week of seeding, the seeds germinate.
Plants thinning is when they are about 2–3 weeks old, with a minimum of 40 plants per accession and 10 cm spacing between them. This promotes adequate performance by ensuring optimal air circulation within the crop.
Supplemental watering comes if the soil is not moist enough (which could be due to insufficient rainfall). Enough moisture is important during the flowering stage.
Kenya millet wholesale price
Kenya millet costs between US$ 0.47 and US$ 0.5 per kilogram, or US$ 0.21 and US$ 0.23 per pound, in 2022. (lb).
The price per kilogram is KES 50.84 in Kenyan Shillings. In Mombasa and Nairobi, the average price for a tonne is US$ 466.67.
Market for exports
Kenyan millet exports accounted for less than 1% of global millet exports in 2019. Kenya ranks 55th in the world for millet exports.
Uganda, Canada, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan are Kenya’s top millet export destinations.
Health benefits of millet
1.Control Blood Sugar
Millet has a low glycemic index (GI) because it is low in simple carbohydrates and high in complex carbohydrates. As a result, millet flour takes longer to digest than wheat flour. Low-GI foods can help prevent blood sugar spikes after meals, making it easier for persons with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.
2. Protect Your Heart
Millet’s soluble fiber can help lower “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for atherosclerosis. In your stomach, soluble fiber forms a gel that absorbs cholesterol, allowing it to be safely transported out of your system.
Millet has been shown in certain studies to increase “good” cholesterol levels and reduce triglycerides. Millet may help keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
3. Improve digestive health
Millet is high in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Millet’s insoluble fiber is a “prebiotic,” which means it helps your digestive system’s healthy bacteria thrive. This sort of fiber also helps keep you regular and lowers your risk of colon cancer by adding bulk to your stools.