A Comprehensive Review of Pearl and Small Millets: Taxonomy, Production, Breeding and Future Prospects in Saudi Arabia

Essam F. El-Hashash *

Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Al-Azhar University, Cairo-11651, Egypt.

Abdulrahman Al-Habeeb

International Dates Council, Saudi Arabia.

Hamdawi Bakri

Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Agricultural Economics Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.

Ahmad Yassin Majjami

Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, General Administration of Agricultural Research and Extension, Research Planning Department, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Saudi Arabia.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Agriculture has seen significant development in the last ten years, but it is also struggling with issues like starvation, malnutrition and climate change in the world. Millet crops from flowering plants of cereals crops belonging to the family Poaceae or Gramineae (herbs). Millets are climate-smart crops that achieve nutritional security, develop sustainable diets, provide multiple health benefits, promote sustainable production agriculture, and the fulfillment of the future needs of the ever-growing population as well as create sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers. In this review, we have attempted to supply information on millet crops including history and taxonomy, germplasm, world production, economic importance, and breeding approaches, as well as millet challenges and prospects in KSA. We underlined the importance of the collection and conservation of millets germplasm which can be of great use in the identification and development of improved millets cultivars with nutritional and health benefits under harsh and changing climatic conditions using breeding conventional and biotechnology methods. Therefore, the promotion of millet could aid attain achieve food and nutritional security of KSA in alignment with the sustainable development goals in Saudi Vision 2030.

Keywords: Pearl millet, small millets, food security, future prospects, KSA

How to Cite

El-Hashash , E. F., Al-Habeeb , A., Bakri , H., & Majjami , A. Y. (2023). A Comprehensive Review of Pearl and Small Millets: Taxonomy, Production, Breeding and Future Prospects in Saudi Arabia. Asian Journal of Research in Crop Science, 8(4), 151–166. https://doi.org/10.9734/ajrcs/2023/v8i4196


Download data is not yet available.


El-Hashash EF, El-Absy KM. Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) Breeding. In: Al-Khayri, J., Jain, S., Johnson, D. (eds) Advances in Plant Breeding Strategies: Cereals. Springer, Cham; 2019.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-23108-8_1

El-Hashash EF, Abou El-Enin MM, Abd El-Mageed TA, Attia MAEH, El-Saadony MT, El-Tarabily KA, Shaaban A. Bread Wheat Productivity in Response to Humic Acid Supply and Supplementary Irrigation Mode in Three Northwestern Coastal Sites of Egypt. Agronomy. 2022;12:1499.


Decoteau DR. Principles of plant science. Environmental Factors and Technology in Growing Plants, Pearson, Upper Saddle River. 2005;49-66.

FAO. International Year of Millets 2023.

Available:https://www.fao.org/3/cc3253en/cc3253en.pdf (accessed on 20 March 2023).

Rao BD, Dinesh TM, Nune SD. Policy analysis and strategies. In Millets and pseudo cereals. Woodhead Publishing; 2021.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-820089-6.00011-2

Nwajei SE. Effects of planting dates on the crude protein and nutrient uptake of two varieties of millet (Pennisetum typhoides (Burm. f.)) Stapf & Hubbard in a forest-savanna transition zone of Edo state. Sustainability, Agric Food and Envi Res. 2023;11(X):1-14.

Available: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.7770/safer-V11N1-art2332

Ceasar SA, Maharajan T. The role of millets in attaining United Nation's sustainable developmental goals. Plants People Planet. 2022;4(4):345-349.


Vetriventhan M, Azevedo VCR, Upadhyaya HD, et al. Genetic and genomic resources, and breeding for accelerating improvement of small millets: current status and future interventions. Nucleus. 2020;63:217-239.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13237-020-00322-3

Fiaz S, Noor MA, Aldosri FO. Achieving food security in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through innovation: Potential role of agricultural extension, J of the Saudi Soc of Agric Sci. 2018;17(4):365-375.


Nwajei SE, Omoregie AU, Ogedegbe FO. 2019. Effects of planting dates on the growth and yield of two indigenous varieties of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br) in a forest-savanna transition zone of Edo State, Nigeria. Acta Agriculturae Slovenica. 2019;114(2): 169-181.

Zhang J, Lu H, Gu W, Wu N, Zhou K, et al. Early Mixed Farming of Millet and Rice 7800 Years Ago in the Middle Yellow River Region, China. PLOS ONE. 2012;7(12): e52146.


Lu H, Zhang J, Liu KB, Wu N, Li Y, Zhou K, Ye M, Zhang T, Zhang H, Yang, Shen L, Xu D, Li Q. Earliest domestication of common millet (Panicum miliaceum) in East Asia extended to 10,000 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sci of the United States of America. 2009;106(18):7367-7372. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0900158106

Satyavathi CT, Solanki PK, Kakani RK, Bharadwaj C, Singhal T, Padaria J, Khandelwal V, Srivastava R, Tomar RS, Iqubal MA. Genomics Assisted Breeding for Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Millets. In: Rajpal, V., Sehgal, D., Kumar, A., Raina, S. (eds) Genomics Assisted Breeding of Crops for Abiotic Stress Tolerance, Vol. II. Sustainable Development and Biodiversity. Springer, Cham. 2019; 21.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-99573-1_13

Bhat BV, Rao, BD, Tonapi, Prabhakar VA, Boraiah B, Ganiger PC. The Story of Millets. Karnataka State Department of Agriculture, Bengaluru, India and with ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research, Hyderabad, India. 2018;124.

Meena RP, Joshi D, Bisht JK, Kant L. Global Scenario of Millets Cultivation. In: Kumar, A., Tripathi, M.K., Joshi, D., Kumar, V. (eds) Millets and Millet Technology. Springer, Singapore; 2021.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-0676-2_2

Brink M, Belay G. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. Cereals and Pulses. Fondation Prota, Wageningen, Backhuys Publishers/ CYA0, 2006.

Acquaah G. Principles of plant genetics and breeding. 1st ed. Blackwell, Malden MA USA; 2007.

Maitra S, Praharaj S, Hossain A, Patro TSSK, Pramanick B, Shankar T, Pudake RN, Gitari HI, Palai JB, Sairam M, Sagar L, Sahoo U. Small Millets: The Next-Generation Smart Crops in the Modern Era of Climate Change. In: Pudake, RN, Solanke, AU, Sevanthi AM, Rajendrakumar, P. (eds) Omics of Climate Resilient Small Millets. Springer, Singapore; 2022.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-3907-5_1


Available: http://genebank.icrisat.org/

(Accessed on 23 March 2023).

Elangovan M, Karnam V, Sushil P, Devi PC. International Year of Millets 2023: Opportunity for Enhancing the Use of Indian Millets Germplasm. Indian J. Plant Genet. Resour. 2022;35(3):90-94. DOI:10.5958/0976-1926.2022.00048.1.

FAOSTAT. Production-yield quantities of millets in world + (total) 1994–2021. https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QCL/visualize. (accessed on 23 March 2023).

Bandyopadhyay T, Muthamilarasan M, Prasad M. Millets for next generation climate-smart agriculture. Front Plant Sci. 2017;8:1266.


Saxena R, Vanga SK, Wang J, Orsat V, Raghavan V. Millets for Food Security in the Context of Climate Change: A Review. Sustainability. 2018;10(7):2228.


UN General Assembly, transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Resolut. Adopt. by Gen. Assem. 25 Sept. 2015;16301. (accessed on 24 March 2023)

Chandra D, Chandra S, Pallavi SAK. Review of finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn): A power house of health benefiting nutrients. Food Science and Human Wellness. 2016;5:149-155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2016.05.004

Kam J, Puranik S, Yadav R, Manwaring HR, Pierre S, Srivastava RK, Yadav RS. Dietary Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: How Millet Comes to Help. Frontiers in Plant Sci. 2016;7:1454.

Available: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2016.01454

Majid A, Priyadarshini CGP. Millet derived bioactive peptides: A review on their functional properties and health benefits. Critical Reviews in Food Sci and Nutr. 2020;60(19):3342-3351.


Anitha, S, Givens DI, Subramaniam K, Upadhyay S, Kane-Potaka J, Vogtschmidt YD, Botha R, Tsusaka TW, Nedumaran S, Rajkumar H, Rajendran A, Parasannanavar DJ, Vetriventhan M, Bhandari RK. Can feeding a millet-based diet improve the growth of children? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients. 2022;14, 225.


Nkhata SG, Ayua E, Kamau EH, Shingiro JB. Fermentation and germination improve nutritional value of cereals and legumes through activation of endogenous enzymes. Food Science and Nutr. 2018; 6(8):2446–2458.


Lydia Pramitha J, Ganesan J, Francis N, Rajasekharan R, Thinakaran J. Revitalization of small millets for nutritional and food security by advanced genetics and genomics approaches. Front Genet. 2023;13:1007552.


Nandini C, Bhat S, Prabhakar SJ. Modified crossing SMUASB method for artificial hybridization in proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) and Little millet (Panicum sumatrense). Electronic J of Plant Breed. 2019;10(3):1161-1170.


AICSMIP. Report on compendium of released varieties in small millets [Internet]. Banglore, India; 2014.

Available:http://www.dhan.org/smallmillets/docs/report/Compendium_of_Released_Varieties_in_Small_millets.pdf. Accessed 27 Mar 2023.

Santra DK, Khound R, Das S. Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) Breeding: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities. In: Al-Khayri, J., Jain, S., Johnson, D. (eds) Advances in Plant Breeding Strategies: Cereals. Springer, Cham; 2019.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-23108-8_6

Yang L, Li R, Cui Y, Qin X, Li Z. Comparison of nutritional compositions of foxtail millet from the different cultivation regions by UPLC-QOrbitrap HRMS based metabolomics approach. J Food Biochem. 2021;45(10):e13940. DOI:10.1111/jfbc.13940

Eglinton J, Coventry S, Chalmers K. Breeding outcomes from molecular genetics. In: Mercer CF (ed) Proc of the 13th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand. 18-21 April. 2006;743-749.

Nallusamy S, Selvamani SB, Muthurajan R. Genome-Wide Identification and Expression Profiling of Noncoding RNAs in Response to Abiotic Stresses in Small Millets. In: Pudake, R.N., Solanke, A.U., Sevanthi, A.M., Rajendrakumar, P. (eds) Omics of Climate Resilient Small Millets. Springer, Singapore; 2022.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-3907-5_5

Araus JL, Cairns JE. Field high-throughput phenotyping: the new crop breeding frontier. Trends Plant Sci. 2014;19:52-61

Alnasser A, Musallat N. Food Sustainability Knowledge among Saudis: Towards the Goals of Saudi Vision 2030. Sustainability 2022;14:11398.


Saudi Vision. Available online: https://www.vision2030.gov.sa/media/rc0b5oy1/saudi_vision203.pdf (accessed on 3 May 2023)

MRP. Market Research Report; Saudi Arabia Millet Market. Report ID: BWC23219.

Available:https://www.blueweaveconsulting.com/report/saudi-arbia-millet-market. (accessed on 23 April 2023).

Al-Turki TA, Al-Namazi AA, Masrahi YS. Conservation of genetic resources for five traditional crops from Jazan, SW Saudi Arabia, at the KACST Gene-Bank, Saudi J of Biological Sci. 2019;26(7):1626-1632. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2018.09.007

Eid NMS, Alharbi A, Al-shaiban F, Alajlani M, Al Ghamdi R.. The Availability of Prebiotics, Probiotics and Other Gluten Free Natural Sources such as Millet in the Saudi Market to Enhance Celiac Patients’ Quality of Life -A Descriptive Study in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2017.” J of Food and Nutrition Research, 2018;6(3): 187-191.

DOI: 10.12691/jfnr-6-3-8.

Sood S, Joshi DC, Chandra AK, Kumar A. Phenomics and genomics of finger millet: current status and future prospects. Planta. 2019;250:731-751.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00425-019-03159-6

Alghamdi AG, Aly AA, Majrashi MA, Ibrahim HM. Impact of climate change on hydrochemical properties and quality of groundwater for domestic and irrigation purposes in arid environment: a case study of Al-Baha region, Saudi Arabia. Env Earth Sci. 2023;82:39.

Available: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-022-10731-z

Almadini AM, Ismail AIH, Ameen FA. Assessment of farmers practices to date palm soil fertilization and its impact on productivity at Al-Hassa oasis of KSA. Saudi J of Bio Sci. 2021;28(2): 1451-1458.


Singh RK, Muthamilarasan M, Prasad M. Biotechnological approaches to dissect climate-resilient traits in millets and their application in crop improvement. J. Biotechnol. 2021;327:64-73.


Ganapathy KN, Patil JV. Improvement in finger millet: Status and future prospects. Millets sorghum Biol. Genet. Improv. 2017;87-111. doi:10.1002/9781119130765.ch3

Rakshit S, Wang Y-H. The Sorghum genome. Springer International Publishing, Singapore. 2016;284.