Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Finger Millet
Eleusine coracana

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The seed is astringent, tonic and cooling[240]. It is used in the treatment of fevers, biliousness and hepatitis[218, 240].

    The leaf juice has been given to women in childbirth, and the plant is reported to be diaphoretic, diuretic, and vermifuge[269]. The plant is a folk remedy for treating leprosy, liver disease, measles, pleurisy, pneumonia, and small pox[269].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – cooked. Used as a millet, the seed can be cooked whole or ground and used as a flour[183]. It is used in cakes, puddings, porridge etc[1, 2, 46, 171, 183]. The flour makes a very fair unleavened bread if it is first soaked overnight in water[2]. It is often used in making fermented foods[183]. Finger millet is the main food grain for many peoples, especially in dry areas of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka[269, 272]. The grain is higher in protein, fat and minerals than rice, corn, or sorghum[269]. When consumed as food it provides a sustaining diet, especially for people doing hard work[269]. The grain may also be malted and a flour of the malted grain used as a nourishing food for infants and invalids[269]. Finger millet is considered an especially wholesome food for diabetics[269]. The seed is about 2mm in diameter[2]. A nutritional analysis is available[218].

    Seed yield is about 5 Tonnes per hectare[269]. Ragi grain possesses excellent storage properties and is said to improve in quality with storage. Seed can be stored without damage for as long as 50 years[269]. They are highly valued as a reserve food in times of famine. Yield depends on variety and is directly related to duration, height and tillering capacity of type grown. Types with straight spikes give better yields than those with curved spikes[269].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts[162, 200]. The seed can also be sown in mid to late spring in situ[200], though if the summer is cool it might not ripen its seed[K].
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in ordinary garden soil in a sunny position[200]. Tolerates moderately moist conditions[57]. Finger millet is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 29 to 429cm, an annual temperature range of 11.1 to 27.4¡C and a pH in the range of 5.0 to 8.2[269]. Typically a tropical crop, one of the best suited for dry farming, generally grown rainfed. It thrives under a medium rainfall, on porous soils that do not get waterlogged. With rainfall of 53-75 cm, it is cultivated rainfed; with less, it is irrigated[269]. Finger millet is very adaptable and thrives at higher elevations than most other tropical cereals[269]. Cultivated on soils ranging from rich loams to poor shallow upland soils. In India, grown on black cotton soils, but thrives on red lateritic loams. Ragi stands salinity better than most cereals[269]. Finger millet is much cultivated in tropical countries for its edible seed[1, 2, 162]. Over 20 varieties of ragi are cultivated in India[183, 269]. The numerous races under cultivation are primarily divided into purple and green types; those with straight or open spikes, encurved or closed spikes, or branched spikes; length of earheads (5-10 cm long); colour of seeds (deep brown to shade of orange-red to almost white or black); dwarf in habit (45 cm tall) to up to 1.3 m tall; poor tillering to profuse tillering; early or late maturing; suitable for growing under irrigation to growing in dry areas. Many named cultivars are involved in breeding trials in India. Most improvement is sought in increasing yields, resistance to lodging, even maturity and loose panicle[269]. The plant requires a good summer if it is to do well in Britain[K], though in warmer climes it is heavy yielding, even on poor soils[57, 171]. Plants are seldom troubled by insect pests[61, 171]. The seed stores well[171]. Plants are mainly self-fertile[269].
S.E. Asia. It probably arose through cultivation from E. indica.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.