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Finger Millet

Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.

Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Chloridoideae
Self-pollinating, 4x, 2n=36, 1C=1593Mbp

Finger millet is originally native to the Ethiopian highlands and was introduced into India approximately 4000 years ago. It is highly adaptable to higher elevations and is grown in the Himalayas up to an altitude of 2300 m.

It is the most important small millet in the tropics (12% of global millet area) and is cultivated in more than 25 countries in Africa (eastern and southern) and Asia (from Near East to Far East), predominantly as a staple food grain. The major producers are Uganda, India, Nepal, and China. Finger millet has high yield potential (>10 t/ha under optimum irrigated conditions) and grain stores very well.

The disease Blast, caused by Pyricularia grisea (same pathogen as rice blast), is the major production constraint.

In India, it is cultivated on 1.8 million ha, with average yields of 1.3 t/ha; The major finger millet growing states are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

On the basis of inflorescence morphology the species E. coracana is classified into two subspecies (africana and coracana). The subspecies africana classified into races: Africana, and Spontanea, and subspecies coracana classified into races: Elongata, Plana, Compacta, and Vulgaris. The race Elongata is divided into subraces: Laxa, Reclusa, Sparsa, race Plana is divided into subraces: Seriata, Confundere, Grandigluma, race Compacta has no subraces and race Vulgaris is divided into subraces: Liliacea, Stellata, Incurvata and Digitata.

At the ICRISAT genebank, 5949 finger millet germplasm accessions from 24 countries are conserved for use in research and development.

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