Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Mali, Nigeria, and Niger), with 97% of millet production in developing countries. The crop is favored due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions.
The most widely grown millet is pearl millet, which is an important crop in India and parts of Africa. Finger millet, proso millet, and foxtail millet are also important crop species. In the developed world, millets are less important. For example, in the United States, only proso millet is significant, and it is mostly grown for bird seed.
While millets are indigenous to many parts of the world, it is believed that they had an evolutionary origin in tropical western Africa, as that is where the greatest number of both wild and cultivated forms exist. Millets have been important food staples in human history, particularly in Asia and Africa. They have been in cultivation in East Asia for the last 10,000 years.