July 21 Panhandle Seminar to Focus on Millets, India

July 21 Panhandle Seminar to Focus on Millets, India

Dipak Santra, alternative crops breeding specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center, will give a presentation on July 21 about millet, an ancient grain in modern agriculture and global food security. He will also provide a glimpse of his home country of India, including its agriculture, economy, and culture.

The public seminar will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, July 21, in the Bluestem Room at the Panhandle Center in Scottsbluff.

Millets comprise of a number of small-grained, annual cereal grasses, including pearl millet, finger millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, little millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet, tef, fonio and Job’s tears. Together, millets represent about 10% of the world's food production and are grown in 90 countries, according to Santra.

He said millets have higher water use efficiency and are advantageous over other cereals in conditions of drought, high temperatures and limited nitrogen. Millet grains also are nutritious and fit consumers seeking gluten-free, non-GMO options. They are rich in protein, minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins. While commonly used for food in Asia and Africa, in Europe and America millets are used mostly as bird feed, Santra said.

The first part of the presentation will be on millet production and research and its in the global food supply. It will include a brief overview of current proso millet research at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. The second part will be on Indian economic growth, farming, people, and life of rural and urban India.

Santra leads a research and extension program focusing on genetic improvement, variety development, and evaluation of alternative and existing crops adapted to rain-fed and limited irrigation production systems in western Nebraska.