Pearl millet, commonly known as bajra, is one of the major crops grown in India. Its cultivation significantly contributes to the country’s agricultural sector, playing a dual role as a staple for both humans and animals. In this blog, we’ll delve into the intricacies of bajra production in India, exploring the top-producing states, the bajra season, and the diverse varieties of bajra grown here.
Bajra is a robust coarse grain, that extends its roots globally. Its popularity is evident through widespread consumption, particularly in the form of roti, a favourite among health enthusiasts. Rich in protein, fiber, and iron, bajra emerges as a highly beneficial grain with potential health advantages. Its consumption is associated with alleviating digestive and cardiovascular issues while serving as a preventative measure against seasonal ailments. As a significant step toward promoting nutritious millets like bajra, the year 2023 has been designated as the International Year of Millets.
Bajra season in India
Bajra crop grows well in hot and dry climates. Typically sown between June and July, it undergoes harvesting from October to November. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, India stands as a key player in bajra production, contributing a substantial 80% to Asia’s and 20% to the global bajra production. Recognizing the nutritional significance of bajra and other millets, and aiming to elevate awareness about their benefits, the Government of India took a pivotal step by declaring 2018 as the National Year of Millets. This strategic move sought to boost both domestic and global demand for these nutritious grains.
Taking the initiative further, in 2021, India presented a proposal to the United Nations to designate 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Garnering support from 72 countries, the proposal gained the approval of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), officially marking 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
Top bajra-producing states
Asia and Africa stand out as the primary hubs for both the production and consumption of bajra. Among the key producers, India, Niger, Sudan, and Nigeria play significant roles in contributing to the global output of this versatile crop. According to the third advance estimate of the production of food grains in India for 2022-23, the total production of bajra has been recorded at 111.66 lakh tonnes. Now, let’s delve into some vital information about bajra producing states.
Bajra varieties grown in India
India boasts a diverse array of bajra varieties, including hirwa bajra, white bajra, and brown bajra. Hirwa bajra stands out as the most common and renowned variety, cultivated primarily for food consumption.
- Sirohi: A prominently grown variety in Rajasthan, Sirohi is characterized by its tall stature and commendable yield, making it a favoured choice among farmers.
- Kali Khand: Thriving in the fields of Madhya Pradesh, Kali Khand is a medium-height variety celebrated for its robust yield and resilience to environmental factors.
- Chironji: Flourishing in Gujarat, Chironji is distinguished by its tall plant structure, delivering not only a bountiful yield but also a delightful taste.
In addition to these, India is home to various small bajra varieties, such as Kodo, Kutki, Chenna, and Sanwa. These bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties contribute to the agricultural richness of the country, adding to the overall biodiversity of bajra cultivation.
Changes in bajra production across India
In 2023, Bajra cultivation covered approximately 69.70 lakh hectares (172.22 lakh acres) in India. During the 2021-22 period, Rajasthan led the charge with 45.42 lakh hectares (112.23 lakh acres) area under bajra production, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 9.88 lakh hectares (24.41 lakh acres), Maharashtra with 3.56 lakh hectares (8.81 lakh acres), Haryana with 3.99 lakh hectares (9.86 lakh acres), Madhya Pradesh with 3.15 lakh hectares (7.78 lakh acres), Karnataka with 1.27 lakh hectares (3.14 lakh acres), and Gujarat with 1.92 lakh hectares (4.73 lakh acres). The millet production in India decreased from 108.63 lakh tonnes in 2020-21 to 97.8 lakh tonnes in 2021-22. For the fiscal year 2022-23, the bajra production target in India was set at 113.00 lakh tonnes. However, the third advance estimate reported a total bajra production of 111.66 lakh tonnes, slightly below the target.
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