- Open Access
Millets: a solution to agrarian and nutritional challenges
© The Author(s) 2018
Received: 7 March 2018
Accepted: 12 April 2018
Published: 27 April 2018
World is facing agrarian as well as nutritional challenges. Agricultural lands with irrigation facilities have been exploited to maximum, and hence we need to focus on dry lands to further increase grain production. Owing to low fertility, utilization of dry lands to produce sufficient quality grains is a big challenge. Millets as climate change compliant crops score highly over other grains like wheat and rice in terms of marginal growing conditions and high nutritional value. These nutri-cereals abode vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, phyto-chemicals and antioxidants that can help to eradicate the plethora of nutritional deficiency diseases. Millets cultivation can keep dry lands productive and ensure future food and nutritional security.
Progress in scientific knowledge and technological innovations have led mankind into yet another stage of modern civilization. Application of novel research strategies into fundamental and translational research has brought an all-round development. In agriculture, strategized technological innovations, viz. development and selection of high yielding variety, use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, mechanization and irrigation facilities, have resulted in sufficient availability of food. Estimated global cereal production was 2605 million tons in 2016 and was forecasted to be 2597 million tons in 2017 . Several short-sighted measures have enhanced productivity but have undermined sustainability and are eroding the very capacity of resource base leading to nutrient deficient saline soil and lowering water beds. In addition, changing climatic conditions have further hastened the vulnerability of farmers towards declining crop production. Dry lands constitute 40% of the global land surface and are home for about 1/3rd of the global population. These low fertile soils are predicted to elevate up to 50–56% in 2100 AD, and 78% of dry land expansion is expected to occur in developing countries [2–4]. According to the report of World Bank, hunger is a challenge for 815 million people worldwide . The spate of farmer’s suicides in an agriculture-based country like India has reached to an average of 52 deaths/day, and reports of farmers selling their blood to earn a livelihood in drought-hit region of the country depict the severity of the agrarian crisis .
Agrarian importance of millets
The demand of food will increase proportionately with growth in world population. At present about 50% of world's total calorie intake is derived directly from cereals . Rice, wheat and maize have emerged as the major staple cereals with a lesser extent of sorghum and millets. Sharma  reported that an increase in the areas of crops with intense water requirements like rice, sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) and cotton (Gossypium) has resulted in the increase in 0.009% in the distance between the ground level and ground water table and this loss is approximately equivalent to a loss of 7191 L of ground water per hectare. There is a lesser possibility of increasing the production of major staple cereals as the world is already facing the challenges of increase in dry lands and deepening of ground water level [3, 10]. According to the report of the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) even after realizing the full irrigation potential, about half of the net sown area will continue to remain rainfed . This alarms the need of shifting to the alternative of current cereal staples.
Optimum agrarian conditions for major cereals and millets
Optimum soil type
Soil salinity (dS/m)
Maturity time (days)
Heavy to sandy loam
Sea level up to 2500 m
6.5 to 8.5
Less than 3.0 dS/m
Range 100–300 cm
Average 120–140 cm
Triticum aestivum L.
Light clay or heavy loam
Sea level to 2500 m
Range 1.3–35 °C
Average 15.5 °C
6.0 to 7.0
Range 30–100 cm
Clay loamy soils to shallow soils
Sea level to 3000 m
Range 7–30 °C
Average 26–30 °C
Loamy soils, shallow soils, soils with clay, clay loam and sandy loam texture
Sea level to 2700 m
*can grow up to 46 °C
*can grow up to 8.0 pH
*yields are economically well up to ECe 8dS/m
Rich loam to poor upland shallow soils
Sea level to 2300 m
*lower productivity below 20 °C
4.5 to 7.5
Sandy loam, slightly acidic, saline, low fertility soils
1200–3500 m above sea level
5.5 to 6.5
Setaria italica L.
Sandy to loamy soils
Sea level to 2000 m
Range 5–35 °C
Average 16–25 °C
Echinochloa, E. frumentacea (Indian barnyard millet) and E. esculenta (Japanese barnyard millet),
Medium to heavy soils
Sea level to 2000 m
Range 15–33 °C
Average 27–33 °C
Paspalum scrobiculatum L.)
Fertile to marginal soils
Up to 1500 m
Up to 2100 m
Scientific interventions in terms of the use of molecular biomarkers, sequence information, creation of mapping populations and mutant have led to the development and release of high yielding varieties of millets throughout the world [22, 29]. Newly developed hybrids are resistant to diseases and has increased per hectare production as compared to their parent varieties [29, 30]. Millets have abundant natural diversity, and the release of new hybrids increases this variation by several folds. For example, pearl millet has approximately 140 species or subspecies belonging to the genus Pennisetum  and further maintenance of the gene bank accessions has increased this number to 65,400. The primary global collection of pearl millet is at ICRISAT with 33% of the world’s gene bank accessions. The largest gene accessions for finger millet, i.e. approximately 27% of the world’s total 35,400 accessions, are maintained by Bureau for Plant Genetic Resources, India. Chinese Institute of Crop Germplasm Resources (ICGR) maintains world’s 56% of the accessions of foxtail millet (Setaria italica), while National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Japan maintains the largest proso millet accessions collection with 33% of the world’s approximately 17,600 genebank accessions . In addition to the improvement in varieties, the advancements in the post-harvest operations of millets have eased their processing. In past, due to the lack of suitable machinery, traditional methods like pounding, winnowing, etc., were used for the decortication of millet grains. These methods were labour intensive, and hence, the production of edible millets was limited . Millet-specific threshers, decorticator, destoners and polishers have been designed by intervention of government agencies as well as private companies. These recent developments in post-harvest operations of millets have eased their processing and have paved way for utilization of millets in the development of food products. The cultivation of millets can provide an overall solution to the existing agrarian challenges and can prove a milestone in achieving United Nations commitment to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 .
Status of malnutrition in world and India
2 billion people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition
800 million people suffer from calorie deficiency
2 million adults are overweight
One in 12 adults has type 2 diabetes
159 million children under age 5 are stunted (too short for their age)
50 million children under age 5 are wasted (Less weight for their height)
41 million children under age 5 are overweight (More weight for their height)
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund,
International Food Policy Research Institute
60 million children underweight (highest in world)
30% low birth weight babies
75% pre-school children suffer from iron deficiency anaemia
85% districts have endemic iodine deficiency
35.7% of children under five are underweight; 58.4% of children between 6 and 59 months are anaemic; 53% of (non-pregnant) women are anaemic;
National Family Health Survey 2015–2016
Global hunger index score = 31.4 (serious hunger situation)
21% of children in India suffers from wasting
Ranked 34th among leading countries with a serious hunger situation
Ranked third behind only Afghanistan and Pakistan (In south Asia)
Global hunger index 2017
29.4% children underweight
9.4% severely underweight
Rapid Survey on Children 2013–2014 (subjects—pre-school children)
51 million people suffer from diabetes which is expected to increase to 79.4 million by 2030 (the increasing consumption of highly polished rice grains and decreasing consumption of coarse cereals contributes to this trend)
Kaveeshvar and Cornwall
18.5% children overweight
5.3% children obese
Misra et al.
82.86 ± 7.53
4.99 ± 1.38
1.90 ± 1.03
1.63 ± 0.42
0.99 ± 0.42
369 ± 27.82
69.88 ± 1.66
13.78 ± 1.40
2.81 ± 0.18
1.77 ± 0.15
1.63 ± 0.26
438 ± 1.75
72.97 ± 2.25
10.82 ± 2.45
3.23 ± 1.60
1.97 ± 0.35
1.70 ± 0.66
69.10 ± 1.52
11.4 ± 0.8
4.87 ± 0.12
2.0 ± 0.55
2.13 ± 0.21
67.30 ± 5.70
11.34 ± 0.91
3.33 ± 0.76
8.23 ± 1.66
3.37 ± 0.12
352 ± 1.41
71.52 ± 3.59
7.44 ± 0.87
1.43 ± 0.12
2.63 ± 0.06
334 ± 2.82
56.88 ± 6.86
10.76 ± 1.11
3.53 ± 1.19
12.8 ± 2.4
4.30 ± 0.26
67.09 ± 4.79
11.74 ± 0.86
3.09 ± 1.18
8.47 ± 3.4
2.73 ± 0.72
352.5 ± 1.62
63.82 ± 7.94
9.94 ± 1.6
3.03 ± 1.03
8.20 ± 2.3
2.83 ± 0.40
349.5 ± 4.95
0.12 ± 0.07
1.25 ± 0.78
0.52 ± 0.02
0.50 ± 0.13
5.56 ± 1.76
0.06 ± 0.02
43.41 ± 3.69
5.24 ± 0.80
357.74 ± 26.54
0.44 ± 0.05
4.31 ± 1.00
0.10 ± 0.01
35.23 ± 7.42
5.29 ± 1.28
266.30 ± 32.3
3.01 ± 0.89
35 ± 8.9
10.3 ± 7.0
0.30 ± 0.1
1.11 ± 1.3
1.48 ± 1.9
31 ± 11
3.5 ± 1.2
0.55 ± 0.6
1.65 ± 2.2
348 ± 3.5
4.27 ± 0.6
36.6 ± 3.7
0.40 ± 0.1
0.80 ± 0.9
0.60 ± 0.7
18.33 ± 6.0
17.47 ± 2.0
57.45 ± 1.9
10 ± 3.5
2.2 ± 1.2
32.33 ± 4.6
3.17 ± 1.3
32.7 ± 2.2
Phenolic compound content (μg/g defatted meal) in different types of millets
(Adapted from Chandrasekara and Shahidi ) (content of phenolic compounds in bound form)
Hydroxybenzoic acid and derivatives
Hydroxycinnamic acid and derivatives
8,8′-Aryl ferulic acid
5,5′-Di ferulic acid
Other health benefits
Benefits of millets in a nutshell
Mechanism of action
Optimum carbohydrate and high quality protein
Sustainable crop option in arid and semi-arid regions
High content of Iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients compared to other cereals
Inclusion of millets in diet
Bio-fortification of staple cereals
Controls release of carbohydrates
Soluble fibre leads to highly viscous intestinal contents that possess gelling properties and could delay the intestinal absorption of carbohydrates
Low glycaemic index
Slow glucose release and low glycaemic load
Protein concentrates rich in antioxidants
Seed coat phenolics act as inhibitors which decrease postprandial hyperglycaemia by blocking the action of complex carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes (amylase, alpha-glucosidase); increase in adinopectin concentration may improve insulin sensitivity
Protein concentrate of foxtail millet
Elevated levels of adinopectin which protects cardiovascular tissues by:
(1) Inhibition of pro-inflammatory and hypertrophic response
(2) Stimulation of endothelial cell responses
Administration of proso/foxtail millet
Reducing plasma triglycerides, LDL through improved cholesterol metabolism
Lower C reactive protein: a marker of inflammation and a stronger predictor of cardiovascular events in clinical applications
Phenolic extracts from seven millet varieties (kodo, finger proso, foxtail, little and pearl millet
Kodo millet exhibited higher inhibition to lipid peroxidation, analogous to butylated hydroxyanisole at 200 ppm
Phenolic extracts from seven millet varieties (kodo, finger proso, foxtail, little and pearl millet
Inhibition of lipid peroxidation in liposomes, singlet oxygen quenching and inhibition of DNA scission
Millet extracts inhibited H-29 cell proliferation in the range of 28–100% after 4 days of administration
35 kDa protein FMBP extracted from foxtail millet bran extract
FMBP, homologous to peroxidase suppress colon cancer cell growth through:
(1) Induction of G1 phase arrest
(2) Loss of mitochondrial trans-membrane potential resulting in caspase-dependent apoptosis in colon cancer cells
Inflammation and wound healing
50 g of finger millet per 100 g feed in diabetic and non-diabetic rats
Enhances dermal wound healing process in diabetes with oxidative stress-mediated modulation of inflammation
Administration of proso/foxtail millet
Lower C reactive protein
Methanolic extract of finger millet
Inhibit glycation and cross-linking of collagen
Scavange free radicals in protection against ageing
Protein extracts, polyphenols
Anti-fungal and antibacterial activity:
active against Bacillus cereus, Aspergillus niger
Seed coat phenolic extract
Loss of fungal functionality by:
(1) Oxidation of microbial membranes and cell components by the free radicals
(2) Inactivation of enzymes due to irreversible complex formation with nucleophilic amino acids
(3) Complex formation of phenolic compounds with biopolymers such as proteins, polysaccharides and metal ions making them unavailable to micro-organisms
Ocular diseases and disorders
Wistar rats maintained on 5% finger millet seed coat matter (SCM) for 6 weeks
(1) Direct scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS), anti-apoptotic activity, and phase 2 induction
(2) Inhibiting nitric oxide (NO) production
(3) Inhibiting certain enzymes responsible for the production of superoxide anions (xanthine oxidase and protein kinase C)
(4) Prevents the accumulation of sorbitol by inhibiting aldose reductase by non-competitive inhibition and reduce the risk of diabetes-induced cataract diseases
Protein of all millets
Absence of gluten in millet protein prevents coeliac disease and related complications
Effects of processing on millets
Processing of millets decreases the anti-nutritional factors in millets and improves the bio-accessibility of nutrients. Many processing methods have been used traditionally like roasting/popping, soaking, germination and fermentation . All these methods have been reported to have a significant impact on the nutritional value of the grain. Malting of millets improves access to nutrients and has been reported to increase the bio-accessibility of iron by 300% and of manganese by 17% . The anti-nutritional factors decreased significantly with an increase in germination time due to hydrolytic activity of the enzyme phytase that increases during germination. The phytate content of millets can be reduced by germination as during the germination the hydrolysis of phytate phosphorus into inositol monophosphate takes place which contributes to the decrease in phytic acid. The tannins are also leached during soaking and germination of grains, and hence it results in the reduction in tannins [82, 83]. Boiling and pressure cooking also result in reduction in tannins. Fermentation is known to reduce the anti-nutritional factors and hence improves the protein digestibility. Irradiation has also shown inhibitory effect against anti-nutrients, and it enhances the protein digestibility . Extrusion cooking or high temperature short time (HTST) processing has been reported to reduce anti-nutrients like phytates, tannins and increase bioavailability of minerals .
Millet-based contemporary foods
Shadang and Jaganathan  formulated the bakery products like biscuits, cakes and cookies using foxtail millet, finger millet, proso millet and pearl millet added with wheat flour. For biscuit and cake, the ratios of 10:90, 20:80 and 30:70 were selected, whereas for cookies, the flours were used in the ratios of 15:85, 20:80 and 25:75, respectively. The sensory evaluation of their products revealed that the combinations of all the three levels were well acceptable for the three products. Rai et al.  utilized alternate flours/meals based on rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), sorghum (Sorghum vulgare) and pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) for the preparation of gluten-free cookies. Their study revealed that the combination of pearl millet and sorghum flour had the maximum sensory scores followed by the cookies prepared from rice and sorghum, maize and pearl millet, rice and pearl millet and control cookies. Best pasting properties were obtained from blends of maize and pearl millet followed by pearl millet and sorghum flour. However, maximum yield was obtained in control (wheat) cookies, i.e. 186.8%, while cookies prepared from rice and maize had the highest spread ratio. The cookies prepared from blend of pearl millet and sorghum was nutritionally rich and had higher fat, protein, ash and calorific values.
Surekha et al.  prepared the barnyard millet flour-based cookies with three different variations, viz. plain, pulse and vegetable. Their research findings indicated that among the three treatments, pulse cookies (90% barnyard millet flour + 10% soybean and green gram flour) had the highest (85%) overall acceptability followed by vegetable cookies (90% barnyard millet flour + 10% dehydrated carrots) with 80% overall acceptability with the least acceptability of 73.33% plain barnyard millet varieties. These cookies had a significant increase in macronutrient and micronutrient composition as compared to simple wheat flour-based cookies.
Ballolli et al.  prepared bread using varying concentrations of wheat flour and foxtail millet. It was found that wheat flour can be successfully replaced with foxtail millet flour up to 50% without significant effect on flavour and overall acceptability. However, the scores for colour, texture and appearance were reduced as compared to controlled sample. Addition of foxtail millet also resulted in a slight increase in the total protein and mineral content in comparison to the control bread.
Anju and Sarita  prepared biscuits using foxtail and barnyard millet. In the recipe, refined wheat flour was replaced to 45% with millet flour and all other ingredients like hydrogenated fat, eggs, baking powder and curd were same as the standard process for the biscuit making. The sensory evaluation of millet-based biscuits revealed a good overall acceptability and had a higher content of crude fibre, total ash and total dietary fibre as compared to refined wheat flour biscuits. Biscuits from foxtail millet flour had the lowest glycaemic index (GI) of 50.8 compared to 68 for biscuits from barnyard millet flour and refined wheat flour.
Pearl millet flour-based sweet, salty and cheese biscuits were prepared and reported by Sehgal and Kwatra . Different blends containing pearl millet flour (40–80%), refined wheat flour (10–50%) and green gram flour (10%) were prepared. The sweet and salty biscuits prepared from refined wheat flour, blanched pearl millet and green gram were nutritionally sound as compared to biscuits prepared from wheat flour alone but had higher anti-nutrient (polyphenol and phytic acid) content.
Saha et al.  prepared biscuits from composite flour containing finger millet and wheat flour in the ratio of 60:40 and 70:30 (w/w). The hardness of biscuit dough was more in blend of 60:40 than 70:30 levels. An increase in adhesiveness and resistance of biscuit dough was found with the increasing levels of wheat flour. But the blend of 70:30 showed more breaking strength and expansion of biscuit after baking in comparison to blend of 60:40.
Dhumal et al.  developed potato and barnyard millet-based oil free, microwave puffed ready-to-eat fasting foods. Barnyard millet flour and potato mash, i.e. 50:50, 55:45 and 60:40, were prepared in three proportions and was steamed for 10, 15 and 20 min. Appropriate cold extrudates were obtained from mixture of barnyard millet flour and potato mash (55:45) after steaming the dough rolled in 50 mm thickness in kitchen pressure cooker (1 kg/cm2 pressure) for 15 min. The cold extrudates prepared after steaming for 10 min were very white while that prepared after steaming for 20 min were brown in colour.
A Barnyard millet-based ready-to-eat snack food was prepared by Jaybhaye and Srivastav , in which barnyard millet, potato mash and tapioca powder was used in the proportion of 60:37:3. The dough was formed into thin rectangular-shaped, steam-cooked cold extrudate samples and was puffed with HTST puffing process at optimum temperature and time (238 °C/39.35 s). The puffed product had a moisture content of 9% and an expansion ratio of 2.05. After puffing, the product was oven-toasted at 116.26 °C for 20–23 min.
Kamaraddi and Shanthakumar  prepared multigrain flour by incorporating various millet flours. They concluded that the substitution of wheat flour with 10–20% of millet flour was possible. They optimized 10% substitution of finger, foxtail and little millet. The proso millet can be replaced to a level of 15% and barnyard millet up to 20%. The further increase in millet content resulted in a lower gluten content, sedimentation value, loaf volume of dough and decreased content of proteins in some flours as compared to wheat flour. The addition of millet also changed the colour of crumb from creamish white to dull brown. An increase in protein, ash and fat content was observed on addition of some millet flours.
Traditional millet-based products
Millets has been used for the purpose of food and feed from ancient times and has been a staple food particularly in diets of African and Asian people. These are consumed as flat bread, porridge, roasted and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (Fig. 2). Millet porridge is a traditional food in Indian, Russian, German and Chinese cuisines. Millets are also used to replace commonly used cereals in local dishes like idli, puttu, adai, dosa, etc. Other traditional products like baddis, halwa, burfi, papad with added millet are also reported [68, 94, 95].
Appalu is made from a mixture of pearl millet flour and Bengal gram flour. Spices like sesame seeds, carom seeds, chilli powder and salt are added and kneaded into dough. Then, the dough is divided into small balls and flattened into round shape. These are then fried and served hot.
The word samai means little millet while payasam means kheer. For preparation of samaipayasam, roasted groundnuts, fennel and jaggery are ground into a fine powder separately. Little millet is added to boiling water by constantly stirring. After the flour is stirred in, jaggery solution is added and the mixture is cooked for a few minutes on low flame. This dish is served hot. This recipe is also made with other millets instead of little millet .
This crispy savoury Indian snack is prepared from a mixture of foxtail millet flour, Bengal gram flour. To this, small amount of spices like cumin seeds, chilli powder, sesame seeds and salt are added and formed into stiff dough with the help of water. The dough is placed in the hand extruder and murukus extruded are deep-fried until these turn brown .
It is a finger millet-based (Eleucine coracana) fermented beverage mostly prepared in the Lug valley of Kullu; Bhangal, Luharti of Kangra district, Balh valley, Barot valley of district Mandi and regions of Sirmour, Himachal Pradesh, India [98, 99]. A mixture (inocula) of roasted barley and local herbs known as ‘dhaeli’ is used to carry out fermentation. The millet flour is kneaded with water to make dough and left in a container for 7–8 days for natural fermentation. The fermented flour is half baked into rotis, cut to pieces and cooled. Then, the roti pieces and powdered dhaeli with sufficient amount of water and jaggery are put into smoke-treated earthen pots and allowed to ferment for 10 days by covering the pot. After the completion of fermentation, liquid is filtered and stored in specially designed earthen pots, sealed air tight from the top. The product has been reported to have 5–10% of alcohol .
Madua is among the most popular finger-millet-based beverage prepared in Arunachal Pradesh. The millet is roasted for 30 min followed by cooling and cooking until soft. The softened grains are mixed with starter culture and allowed to ferment in a perforated basket covered with Ekam leaves for 4–7 days. After completion of fermentation, hot water is poured from top and collected in a container. The collected liquid is known as madua. A good quality madua is golden yellow in colour, sweet in taste and has good alcoholic flavour. Themsing, rakshi, mingri and lohpani are other finger millet-based alcoholic beverages produced and consumed in Arunachal Pradesh, India .
Oshikundu is a traditional cereal-based sour–sweet beverage of Namibia. It exits in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic form. It is brewed from pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) meal locally known as mahangu, malted sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), bran and water. Brewing of oshikundu is a household practice by rural women for their daily household consumption and for sale in the open markets in some towns of northern Namibia. The production process involves the addition of boiled water to mahangu meal, and the mixture is left to cool to room temperature with occasional stirring. Malted sorghum meal and bran are then added to the mixture. The step of bran addition is optional depending on the availability and preference of using bran in brewing. After the preparation of mixture, some amount of previously fermented oshikundu is added. The final mixture is then diluted with water depending on the amount of starting material used and desired volume of the final product. The mixture is then left to ferment at room temperature for an average one and half hour after which oshikundu is ready to drink. The alcohol is produced by the yeast fermentation of malt sorghum. It is a perishable beverage with a shelf life of less than 6 hours and is drunk on the same day .
Koozh is another fermented beverage made with millet flour and rice and consumed mainly by ethnic communities in Tamil Nadu, India . It is mainly prepared using finger millet (Eleucine corcana); however, use of pearl millet has been reported in other places. The preparatory steps of koozh involve two fermentation stages. The process starts with grinding of the millet to flour, mixing with subsequent water to make slurry and left this to ferment overnight. On the second day, broken rice (20% by weight of millet) is cooked in excess water, into which the overnight fermented millet slurry is mixed and cooked to make a thick porridge called noyee. The fermentation of this porridge for 24 h results in kali, a semi-solid porridge to which the required amount of potable water was added (1:6 w/v) and hand-mixed with salt to prepare koozh.
Acceptability of millet-based products
The effect of addition of millets on the sensory acceptability of food products is scanty. Some researchers have reported the increased acceptability of the products on addition of millets, and literature on the decreased acceptability is also available. Florence et al.  reported high sensory acceptability in pearl millet-based cookies. Okpala et al.  reported a sensory acceptability of 7.1 on a scale of 9.0 points for 100% sorghum-based cookies. The acceptability was increased to 7.2 when a blend of cocoyam flour, fermented sorghum flour and germinated pigeon pea flour was used in the ratio of 66.6:16.7:16.7, respectively. In a study based on extruded products prepared from sorghum flour, corn flour, whey protein isolate and defatted soy flour, decreased acceptability was reported with increased content of sorghum . The use of millets as a blend with other cereals, pulses or legume has been reported to have an increase in overall acceptability of the product [104–106]. In addition to sensory aspects, the presence of anti-nutritional factors like phytic acid, tannins and phenols limits the use of millets as food . High content of phytic acid was reported in the biscuits prepared using pearl millet . Similar results have been reported by Mbithi-Mwikya et al.  in composite mix developed from unprocessed finger millet, kidney beans, peanuts and mango puree. The products were reported to be unfit for the infant consumption due to the presence of phytic acid, trypsin inhibitor and tannins content. However, the processing methods like roasting, malting, germination and soaking have been reported to reduce the anti-nutritional content [82, 105].
Millets can easily thrive in extreme conditions like drought, and some wild varieties can even prevail in flooded areas and swampy grounds. These have low glycaemic index, abode gluten-free protein and are rich in minerals (calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, etc.), B-vitamins and antioxidants. These extraordinary traits make them nutritious and climate change compliant crops. These can not only serve as an income crop for farmers but also improve the health of the community as a whole. Existing limitations, i.e. the presence of anti-nutritional factors and low sensory acceptability of millet-based products, can be overcome by the scientific interventions. The anti-nutritional factors can be inactivated by processing methods like cooking, roasting, germination and fermentation. The sensory acceptability of millet-based products can be enhanced by mixing millet flours with other flours of high acceptability and preparing composite foods. The use of millets in commercial/packaged food will encourage farmers to grow millets and will open new opportunities and revitalize the farmers. The inclusion of millet-based foods in international, national and state-level feeding programs will help to overcome the existing nutrient deficiencies of protein, calcium and iron in developing countries.
AK and VT carried out a major part of the literature review, drafted the manuscript and are equally first author. A Kaur co-authored, supervised the manuscript preparation and helped to finalize the manuscript. VK and KG carried out literature review for selected sections and helped to revise the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors are thankful to Department of Food Science and Technology, PAU, Ludhiana and Lovely Professional University for providing the necessary facilities, which were used for the preparation of manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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