Africa produces almost half the world's millet, and almost a quarter is
produced in Niger and Nigeria alone (FAO,
1993). Four main kinds of millet are cultivated in Africa,
summarized in Table
1. Among these, pearl millet, Pennisetum
glaucum, is by far the most important. Available evidence
suggests that pearl millet, also known as bulrush millet, or mil à
chandelles or petit-mil in West Africa, originated in Africa
and was subsequently spread throughout the world. There is
still some debate over whether pearl millet originated in West Africa or
in the Abyssinia region (present-day Ethiopia) (Rachie
and Majmudar, 1980).
Pearl millet is a fast-growing, robust cereal that uses water more
efficiently than either sorghum or maize, as well as being more heat
tolerant. In Africa it is of great importance in the Sahel
region, where it is the principle cereal. It is the staple
cereal in Nambia (Anon.,
In West Africa, the principle stem borer of pearl millet is C.
ignefusalis. Busseola fusca has been recorded
attacking pearl millet in both East and west Africa. Several Sesamia
species, as well as C. partellus and E. saccharina are also
known to attack P. glaucum.
Like pearl millet, finger millet (Eleusine coracana) is now
considered to have originated in Africa (Ethiopia) and later imported to
Asia, where it assumed greater importance than it had in Africa (Rachie
and Peters, 1997). It is still grown extensively in East
Africa, especially around Lake Victoria, and also in Burundi, Rwanda and
eastern Zaire, as far north as Zimbabwe, and in Madagascar. Stem
borers attacking E. coracana include the noctuids B. fusca, S.
botanephaga and S. calamistis.
Among the less important millets, teff (Eragrotis tef) is almost
exclusively grown in Ethiopia, and cultivation of fonio (Digitaria
spp.) is restricted to a few West African countries, amoung which Guinea
and Mali are the largest producers.
Major references: Acland,
and Peters, 1977; Rachie
and Majmudar, 1980; Spencer
and Sivakumar, 1987.