The world’s population is projected to grow to 9.1 billion people by 2050 (FAO, 2009a).  It is obvious that urgent action is required to ensure increased food supply and food security considering the restricted land resources. Food security has grown more important on both the international and domestic fronts as a result of the global supply, economic growth, and rising population in emerging countries. Two of the largest difficulties facing the modern world are addressing hunger and feeding the planet’s population. Conflicts, insufficient production of food resulting in imbalances in supply and demand, and shortages in the supply of micro- and macronutrients are some of the causes of this problem causing global instability in a number of places. The concept of food security encompasses both sustained access to wholesome nutrition as well as consistent access to physical food availability. Food insecurity is first divided into two categories by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): moderate (limited access to food results in poorer dietary quality, eating patterns, health, and wellbeing) and severe (running out of food, experiencing hunger, and having health and wellbeing at severe risk) security (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2019). The threat of climate change and global warming persists even while some of these causes of hunger can be addressed, resulting in a marginal decrease in the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition from about one billion in 1990–1992 to 850 million in 2010–2012 (FAO,2012). Estimates indicated that by 2050, 2-3 billion people may experience hunger and other food and nutritional insecurities due to the decline in food production rates and the additional burden of feeding a population greater than 9 billion (Wheeler and Braun, 2013). Crop yields, crop production, and the overall sustainability of our food systems are all said to be directly impacted by climate change and rising world average temperatures. At both the macro and micro levels, ensuring food and nutrition security for India’s enormous and diverse population is a challenge, and work has been done on numerous fronts. There is no question that significant efforts have been undertaken recently to achieve food and nutrition security in India, and the advancements made cannot be disputed. However, unless concerted efforts are made, food insecurity and malnutrition appear to be continuing and may continue in the near future. So, the goal of sustainable improvement in food and nutrition security continues to be the main objective. According to some estimates, a few places may gain from climate change because of higher production and yields, but this won’t be enough to feed the growing population around the world (Downing et al., 2000). Furthermore, the majority of scientists concur that crop output would be severely decreased by the current rates of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, ensuring food security depends greatly on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to control global temperatures. However, one of the main sources of greenhouse gases like methane in the environment is the agriculture industry. Intensive agricultural practises, which are practised in various parts of the world, typically result in higher emissions (Olesen et al., 2002). In addition to being a large source of macronutrients including carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, cereal crops also have a sizable potential to contribute to global warming. Wheat has the biggest global warming potential of all the major cereal crops, with an estimated 4 tonnes CO2eq/ha, followed by rice and maize (an estimated 3.4 tonnes CO2 eq/ha). Additionally, the carbon equivalent emissions from these crops are considerable, with an average of 1000, 956, and 935 kg C/ha for wheat, rice, and maize, respectively (Jain et al., 2016). They are widely cultivated and the main sources of nutrition for the entire world’s population despite having greater emission rates. Other minor cereal crops, including millet and sorghum, have significantly lower carbon footprints. This is one of the primary reasons why millets could be one of the crops that reduce the global carbon footprint (Prasad and Staggenborg,2009). Improved nutritional security can alsobe achieved by diversifying the agricultural system and using drought-resistant crops. A class of coarse grain cereals known as millets can be very helpful in achieving this. Millets are a group of diverse small-grain cereal crops grown belonging to the Poaceae grass family and are considered one of the oldest cultivated crops. They are composed of up to a dozen crop species, mostly from developing nations in Asia and Africa (Gupta et al., 2017). Despite significant pressure from competing crops in terms of regulations and production support, India is the world’s largest producer of millets, generating approximately 40% of the millets consumed worldwide. Ninety-seven percent of millet is produced in developing nations, making millet significant crops in the semiarid tropical regions of Asia and Africa (Vinoth and Ravidran, 2017).In temperate, subtropical, and tropical latitudes, the crop is primarily farmed on marginal lands in arid locations. The crop is preferred because of its yield and brief growth season in hot, dry conditions. Throughout human history, millet have played a significant role as a staple meal, especially in Asia and Africa. Since millets are C4 plants, they have a much more efficient photosynthetic system than C3 plants like rice and wheat. The majority of millet grains are now commonly referred to as “Nutri-cereals” because they have higher protein, fibre, calcium, and mineral contents than the widely consumed grains of rice and wheat. For the past 10,000 years, East Asia has been cultivating them. Millets are native to many regions of the world, and pearl millet is the variety that is grown the most widely. It is a significant crop in India and several regions of Africa (Lu et al., 2009). The most significant varieties include foxtail, finger, proso, and pearl millet. Millets could be crucial functional foods for the prevention of non-communicable diseases because they are a rich source of antioxidants, fibre, and essential and non-essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.This review aims to provide detailed provides detailed nutritional composition and its benefits to humans and livestock, need of growing millets, various constraints and perspectives associated with it. 

Nutritional Importance:

There are plenty of chronic diseases and health problems in the world today. According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, In 129 nations (countries with data available), 44% of the population suffers from very serious levels of undernutrition, adult overweight, and obesity (IFPRI, 2016). The majority of these disorders are caused by nutrient imbalances in the diet. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 7.9% of the world’s population, or 795 million people, were undernourished in 2015. However, more than 1.9 billion adults under the age of 18 (or 39% of the world’s population) were reported to be overweight, and another 13% to be obese (FAO, 2015). The World Health Organization has previously classified obesity-related problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease as an epidemic (WHO,2015). The majority of undernourished people in the world reside in India. Globally, 4 69,000 deaths were attributed to protein energy malnutrition (PEM), while 84,000 deaths were attributed to a lack of other essential nutrients as iron, iodine, and vitamin A (Von Grebmer et al., 2017). With a prevalence incidence of 11% for men and 15% for women, obesity is a significant public health issue in India. Because millets are a great source of several essential elements, they offer an extra benefit in the fight against nutrient deficiencies in third-world countries.

Millets are equivalent to and occasionally have higher nutrient levels than conventional cereals in terms of calorie value, protein, and macronutrients. As a result of their high quantities of calories, calcium, iron, zinc, lipids, and high-quality proteins, they significantly contribute to the diets of both humans and animals. They are also abundant providers of vitamins and dietary fibre. Here, is the nutrient composition of millets: 

1. Carbohydrates: The carbohydrates in pearl millet grains includes dietary fibre, starch and soluble sugars. The endosperm of pearl millet contains glucose in the form of amylase and amylopectin and is regarded as having a high starch content. The starch content of different pearl millet grain genotypes varies from 62.8 to 70.5% and approximately 71.82 to 81.02%. Soluble sugars range from 1.2 to 2.6%, and amylose from 21.9 to 28.8% (Cheik et al., 2006) and amylose from 21.9 to 28.8%. The starch included in pearl millet can be employed as bulking, thickening, and gelling agents for food texture (Hadimani et al., 2001). However, according to Bhatt et al., 2003, the total carbohydrate content of finger millet ranges from 72 to 79.5%. Additionally, Wankhede et al., 1997 (a) noted that the detailed profile of the carbohydrates ranged between 59.5 and 61.2% for starch, 6.2-7.2% for pentosans, 1.4-1.8% for cellulose, and 0.04-0.6% for lignin.

2. Protein: Protein is the second main component of millet. Pearl millet has 11.6% protein, which is more than the 7.2% in rice, 11.5% in barley, 11.1% in maize, and 10.4% in sorghum (Jha et al., 2013). Additionally, Anitha et al. (2019) noted that pearl millet contained 9.79% protein. The crude protein content of pearl millet grain is thought to be 8–60% higher by weight compared to maize (Burton et al., 1972). Contrarily, fnger millet has about 5-8% protein (Chethan and Malleshi, 2007) recorded the greatest protein level for finger millet at nearly 11%, and Anitha et al. (2019) documented a proportion of 6.32% in finger millet.

3. Dietary fibre: Fibre is thought to be beneficial for gut health, and a moderate diet of foods high in fibre may help to promote gut health (McIntoshet al., 2003). Fibre plays a similar role in the prevention of diabetes, colon cancer, and heart disease (Eshak et al., 2010). Bowl movement is enhanced by the pearl millet’s high dietary fibre content, which ranges from 8% to 9% (Rooney and Miller, 1982). Additionally, due to its slow digestion, it prolongs the transit time, reducing the absorption of glucose into the blood, which benefits non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. People who eat millet have a lower incidence of diabetes (Shobana et al., 2009).Additionally, the fibre in millet may help lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol. It inhibits the body from producing bile acids, which results in gallstones (Shweta, 2015). In addition, pearl millet’s high fibre content slows the passage of food from the stomach to the intestines. This results in longer gaps between meals, which helps avoid obesity.

4. Lipids: The fat content of pearl millet is thought to be between 5 and 7 percent (Gopalan et al., 2003) as compared to 3.21 to 7.71 percent in maize (Ullah et al., 2010). The percentage of lipids in finger and pearl millet was also reported by (Himanshu et al., 2018) to be 1% and 5%, respectively. Pearl millet has a high concentration of fatty acids such as palmitic, stearic, and linoleic acids, while maize has a lower percentage of oleic acid (Adeola and Orban, 1995). The overall lipid content of pearl millet grains is larger than that of other millet species, ranging from 1.5 to 6.8% (Taylor, 2004). The contents of free and bound lipids in pearl millet are, respectively, 5.6 to 6.1 and 0.6 to 0.9%.  Sridhar and Lakshminarayana (1994) reported that the overall lipid content of finger millet, was 5.2% (2.2% free lipids, 2.4% bound lipids, and 0.6% structural lipids). On the other hand, oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids were found to be the main fatty acids found in finger millet. Unsaturated fatty acids make for 74.4% of finger millet’s total fatty acid production compared to saturated fatty acids’ 25.6% (Kunyangaet al., 2013).

5. Macronutrients: Martnez-Ballesta et al. (2010), environmental stresses such as high salt concentrations, limited water accessibility, and extreme temperatures have been shown to affect the mineral content of food. The overall mineral and trace element content of pearl millet depends on the type of soil. Ash concentration in pearl millet and maize, respectively, ranges from 1.6 to 3.6% and 0.86 to 1.35%. Pearl millet has higher quantities of minerals than maize, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and copper (Adeola and Orban, 1995). Due to its high oil content, pearl millet is also regarded as an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamin E (2 mg/100 g). The grain is regarded as an excellent source of vitamin A (Taylor, 2004). 

Constraints with food security in developing nations:

A condition where people have physical and financial access to wholesome food that satisfies their dietary needs is referred to as food security (World Food Summit, 1996). The scope of food security problems is frequently reduced to the availability of agricultural products like cattle (Hatab et al., 2019). The difficulties are thought to be more intricate than simply increasing the supplies. Several elements, including urbanization and accessibility, are among the restrictions.The structure and procedures that govern economies and societies, as well as institutional failings, are frequently mentioned as contributing reasons to food insecurity. The expansion of small grains like millet could worsen poverty among the underprivileged population, especially in light of recent events like the extraordinary COVID-19 epidemic. Millets are crops that, in the context of climatic change, have the potential to endure challenging circumstances and contribute to the stability of food security.  


Millets were shown to offer a significant potential to improve food and nutritional security. Millets should therefore beadded to the list of staple foods together with wheat and rice.Millets may grow well in adverse conditions like drought, and some wild varieties can even thrive in wetlands and populated areas. These contain gluten-free protein, low glycemic index carbohydrates, an abundance of minerals (such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, and others), B vitamins, and antioxidants. These exceptional qualities make them nutrient-dense and resistant to climate change crops. These can benefit the health of the community as a whole in addition to providing farmers with an additional source of revenue.As a result, research and development initiatives as well as the creation of policies are needed; some actions have already been done globally, particularly in India and some are required to be taken. Minor millets have received very little attention in the scientific community despite their great nutritional qualities and easy production method. They are frequently disregarded, leading to the term “orphan cereals” being used by scientists to describe them.However, in order to increase the micronutrients’ bioavailability and raise the calibre of millet diets, new processing and preparation techniques are required. The bioavailability, metabolism, and health benefits of millet grains and their many components in humans require further study.The current nutrient deficiencies of protein, calcium, and iron in poor nations will be addressed by the inclusion of millet-based foods in international, national, and state-level feeding programmes.

Ms. Jyoti Sharma, Assistant Professor

Ms. Jyoti Sharma, Assistant Professor

School of Agricultural Studies, Geeta University, Panipat, Haryana