Proso millet is one of the few types of millet not cultivated in Africa. In the United States, former Soviet Union, and some South American countries, it is primarily grown for livestock feed. As a grain fodder, it is very deficient in lysine and needs complementation. Proso millet is also a poor fodder due to its low leaf-to-stem ratio and a possible irritant effect due to its hairy stem. Foxtail millet, having a higher leaf-to-stem ratio and less hairy stems, is preferred as fodder, particularly the variety called moha, which is a high-quality fodder.
In order to promote millet cultivation, other potential uses have been considered recently. For example, starch derived from millets has been shown to be a good substrate for fermentation and malting with grains having similar starch contents as wheat grains. A recently published study suggested that starch derived from proso millet can be converted to ethanol with an only moderately lower efficiency than starch derived from corn. The development of varieties with highly fermentable characteristics could improve ethanol yield to that of highly fermentable corn. Since proso millet is compatible with low-input agriculture, cultivation on marginal soils for biofuel production could represent an important new market, such as for farmers in the High Plains of the US. The demand for more diverse and healthier cereal-based foods is increasing, particularly in affluent countries. This could create new markets for proso millet products in human nutrition. Protein content in proso millet grains is comparable with that of wheat, but the share of essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and methionine) is substantially higher in proso millet. In addition, health-promoting phenolic compounds contained in the grains are readily bioaccessible and their high calcium content favor bone strengthening and dental health. Among the most commonly consumed products are ready-to-eat breakfast cereals made purely from millet flour as well as a variety of noodles and bakery products, which are, however, often produced from mixtures with wheat flour to improve their sensory quality.
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