vigna sinensis

Finger millet

Finger millet (Eleusine coracana, Amharic ዳጉሳ "Dagusa" or ቶኩሶ tōkūsō), also known as African millet or Ragi), is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. Finger millet is originally native to the Ethiopian Highlands and was introduced into India approximately 4000 years ago. It is very adaptable to higher elevations and is grown in the Himalaya up to 2,300 metres in elevation.


Finger millet is often intercropped with legumes such as peanuts (Arachis hypogea), cowpeas (Vigna sinensis), and pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan), or other plants such as Niger seeds (Guizotia abyssinica).

Although statistics on individual millet species are confused, and are sometimes combined with sorghum, it is estimated that finger millet is grown on approximately 38,000 square kilometres.


Once harvested, the seeds keep extremely well and are seldom attacked by insects or moulds. The long storage capacity makes finger millet an important crop in risk avoidance strategies for poorer farming communities.


Finger millet is especially valuable as it contains the amino acid methionine, which is lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice, or maize meal. Finger millet can be ground and cooked into cakes, puddings or porridge. The grain is made into a fermented drink (or beer) in many parts of Africa. The straw from finger millet is used as animal fodder.

Nutritive value of Ragi per 100 g

Protein 7.3 g
Fat 1.3 g
Carbohydrate 72 g
Minerals 2.7 g
Calcium 3.44 g
Fibre 3.6 g
Energy 328 KCal

Preparation as food

In India, finger millet or ragi is mostly grown and consumed in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Ragi flour is made into flatbreads, including thick, leavened dosa and thinner, unleavened roti. Ragi grain is malted and flour from the malted grain is consumed after mixing with milk/boiled water/yoghurt.

Ragi flour is usually eaten as ragi mudde (literally, ragi paste; also called ragi balls for the round shape). The mudde which is prepared by boiling the ragi flour in water until the water is condensed. The resulting preparation is then rolled into a spherical form and consumed, after applying ghee with sambar.

In Maharashtra [India], bhakari (kind of pita bread) is prepared using ragi (nachani) flour.

In the north-west of Vietnam, finger millet is used as a medicine for women when they give birth. A minority used finger millet flour to make alcohol (bacha alcohol is a good drink of the H'mong minority).

In southern parts of India, pediatricians recommend ragi food for infants of six months and over because of its high nutritional content, especially calcium.


A traditional food plant in Africa, this millet has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Common names for finger millet

  • Arabic: Tailabon
  • Chinese: 穇子 (Traditional), 䅟子 (Simplified), cǎnzi (pinyin)
  • Dhivehi: ބިންބި Bimbi
  • English: Finger millet, African millet, ragi, koracan
  • Ethiopia: Dagussa (Amharic/Sodo), tokuso (amharic), barankiya (Oromo)
  • French: eleusine cultivee, coracan, koracan
  • German: Fingerhirse
  • India: Ragi (Kannada, Telugu), Taidalu (Telangana), Kelvaragu,Aariyam (Tamil), Panjapule ([Malayalam]) Maduva (in some parts of north India), Nachani (Marathi)
  • Kenya: Wimbi (Swahili), Kal (Dholuo), Ugimbi (Kikuyu)
  • Nepal: Koddo
  • Sri Lanka: Kurakkan
  • Sudan: Tailabon (Arabic), ceyut (Bari)
  • Tanzania: (Swahili) Mbege, mwimbi, Wimbi, ulezi,
  • Uganda: Bulo
  • Zambia: Kambale, lupoko, mawele, majolothi, amale, bule
  • Zimbabwe: Rapoko, zviyo, njera, rukweza, mazhovole, uphoko, poho
  • Vietnam: Hong mi, Chi ke
  • Denmark: Fingerhirse


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