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Eleusine coracana (finger millet)

Finger millet is one of the most nutritious of all the world’s cereal crops being rich in essential amino acids, iron and calcium. Finger millet also has many medicinal uses.
Eleusine coracana flowers

Eleusine coracana (finger millet)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.

Common name: 

finger millet, African millet, koracan (English); eleusine, coracan, mil rouge (French); luco, capim colonial, nachenim (Portuguese); mwimbi, ulezi (Swahili); ragi (Kannada, Indian dialect).

Conservation status: 

Widespread in cultivation.

Habitat: 

Savannah and upland grassland.

Key Uses: 

Food, drink, bird seed, traditional medicine, fodder, thatching, paper making.

Taxonomy

Kingdom: 
Plants
Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lilianae
Order: 
Poales
Family: 
Poaceae
Genus: Eleusine

About this species

Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) is a variety of millet grown in the arid parts of Africa and Asia. It is one of the most nutritious of all the world’s cereal crops, containing high levels of starch, calcium, iron and methionine, an amino acid that is absent from the diets of millions of the poor who live on starchy foods such as cassava and plantain.

Finger millet is popular in dry areas because it can lie dormant for weeks. As soon as the rains come, the grain springs to life and is ready for harvesting in just 45 days.

One of the drawbacks of finger millet production is that it is labour-intensive, leading farmers to favour the production of maize, sorghum and cassava instead. In addition to this, finger millet is stigmatised as a food for the poor, a perception which has had serious health implications. In households where rice has replaced finger millet as the staple diet, nutritional deficiency and anaemia are widespread. 

Synonym: 

Eleusine indica (L.) Gaertn. subsp. coracana (L.) Lye (1999)

Genus: 
Eleusine

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