Millet is a general agricultural name for a range of small seeded grasses. The earliest evidence for the use of this crop comes from the Neolithic of China, about 3,000 BC, and later Korea where Broomcorn (Panicum miliaceum) was used as a food crop, having more significance than rice at that time. This is also known as Proso Millet.
Foxtail millet (Seteria
italica) also originated in China during the Neolithic and was used
alongside Broomcorn. By about 2,000 BC this type of millet was used in
Europe, often referred to as Hungarian Millet or Italian Millet. This is
the type used for bird seed. By 600 BC this type of Millet was being used in
the Near East.
Pearl Millet (Pennistetum glaucum) was cultivated in Africa around 2,000 BC. This type of grass is also known as Bajra in India.
Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana) originated in the mountainous regions of Ethiopia and was used as a food crop around 2,000 BC. This crop also appeared in India very soon afterwards and is known as Mandwa. This is a very hardy cereal crop, and it has been successfully cultivated high in the Himalayas. This crop is often grown alongside legumes to increase yield.
There are also several other similar species of grasses that are grown in specific parts of the world that are called Millet. They all have similar characteristics to the main forms.