Cereals are the most important sources of food for man and lower animals. The word cereals finds its origin in ‘Ceres’, the Roman goddess of grain. Romans used to hold festivals at harvest lime in honour of the goddess, Ceres, whom they worshipped as the giver of grain.
The cereals are all members of the grass family, Graminea, and are alike in possessing the characteristic fruit to the family, the Caryopsis. In caryopsis, the wall of the seed is fused with ovary wall to form the husk. The term ‘grain’ is applied either to this type of fruit or to the plant that produced it.
The cereals are six in number, barley, maize, oat, rice, rye and wheat. The northern region have barley and rye., the temperature regions wheat and the tropical regions, maize and rice. Cereals are rich in carbohydrates (60-70%), proteins, fats, and vitamins are also present.
Millets: The term ‘millet’ is loosely applied to several species of cereals which produce small grains compared with those of maize. They are in general smaller leafier plants and are characterised by maturation period and drought resistance. Millets are grown almost for local human consumption. These small grained millets are used as food, in the form of flour or cakes. They are also used for poultry food.
Principle millets are as follows:
- Pannisetum typhoideum(Pearl millet)
- Panicum miliaceoum (Pros millet)
- Setaria italica (foxtail millet)
- Sorghum vulgare (jowar)
- Elucine coracana (Ragi or finger millet)