Millet vs Cereal: Difference and Comparison

Food is one of the necessities for humans after oxygen and water. Now, there are two types of food: one obtained from plants & trees and the other from animals.

The food obtained from plants and trees can further be classified as fruits, vegetables, millet, cereal, etc.

Key Takeaways

  1. Millets are a group of small-seeded, drought-tolerant grasses cultivated as staple crops. At the same time, cereals are a broader category of grasses cultivated for their edible grains, including wheat, rice, and corn.
  2. Millets have a higher nutritional value than many common kinds of cereal, providing more protein, fiber, and essential minerals.
  3. Millets are more sustainable and adaptable to various growing conditions than many kinds of cereal, making them valuable in regions with challenging climates.

Millet vs Cereal

Millet is a type of grain that is used in traditional dishes in many parts of the world, especially in Africa and Asia. It is a small, round, and gluten-free grain. Cereal is a term used to describe a wide variety of grains that are cultivated for food. Some examples are wheat, oats, etc.

Millet vs Cereal

Millets are a kind of cereal crop. They are grown for their small and edible seeds which are used as human food and fodder for animals. Millet crops are grown in semi-arid tropics and they require low rainfall.

Millets are mostly produced in Asia and Africa due to the suitable climate.

Cereals belong to the grass family and they are cultivated for edible parts of their grain. Different Cereal crops require different climate conditions for them to grow.

Some of the common Cereals are Wheat, Barley, Rice, Maize, etc. Cereals are a rich source of minerals, proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and oils.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMilletCereal
DefinitionGrass crop with small edible seedsGrass crop with large seeds but the grains are edible
Common cropsPearl Millet, Foxtail Millet, Finger Millet, and Proso MilletWheat, Barley, Rice, Rye, Oats
Word OriginThe term ‘Millet’ is used to describe cereal crops with small seedsThe word ‘Cereal’ is derived from the Roman Goddess Ceres
Nutritional ValueMillets are rich in carbohydrates, fat, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous60-70% carbohydrates, vitamins, fat, and proteins
Rainfall requiredMillets need low rainfallCereals need the right amount of rain
Soil requirementsGrown in poor soilGrown in good soil
Drought resistanceHighly resilient to droughtsNot show resistance to droughts
Economic ImportanceMillets have less economic importanceCereals have high economic importance
Grown asMillets are grown as a mixed cropCereals are grown as the main crop
Easiness indigestionMillets are easy to digestCereals are relatively tough to digest

What is Millet?

Millets are crops that have edible small seeds and are grown in dry weather.

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Most of the Millets come under the tribe Paniceae of the sub-family Panicoideae and some of the common Millet crops are Foxtail, Pearl, Finger, and Proso Millet.

Due to the reason that Millets require dry weather, they are mainly cultivated in Asia and Africa.

The earliest signs of Millet farming date back to 3500-2000 BC in the Korean Peninsula.

After that, Millet crops became popular in the Asian subcontinent due to their high drought resilience, ability to grow in less fertile soils, need for less rainfall, and low economic expenditure.

Till 5000 BC, Asian varieties of Millet were introduced to Europe, most probably by the Chinese through the black sea.

Millet crops are a great source of various nutrients like potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, fat, and carbohydrates. Also, Millets are good for the stomach as they are easy to digest.

For the last 7,000 years, Millets are playing a vital role in agriculture and farming.

Moreover, Institutes like ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research and Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture are researching to make sure that Millet fulfils the needs of future generations.


What is Cereal?

Cereal crops are grown worldwide for their edible seed grains or cereal grains. There are many cereal crops like rice, wheat, barley, rye, etc. that are grown in different climates.

For example, crops like wheat, barley, and oats require a moderate climate to develop properly. Other crops like barley and rye are seen to grow in the harsh cold weather of Siberia and the subarctic.

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Cereal grains were first used by humans about 8,000 years ago. Ancient farmers stored these grains as their future supplies in case long winters or calamities happened.

However, there are other proofs that Cereals were first cultivated in Syria about 9,000 years ago. These inconsistencies surface as archaeologists and scientists unleash new parts of history each day.

Cereals are available in two ways – processed and unprocessed. The unprocessed Cereals are whole grains with sufficient minerals, vita, mins, and protein.

In the processed Cereals, the bran and germ part of the Cereal grain is removed, leaving only the endosperm which is rich in carbohydrates. The carbohydrate in processed Cereals is about 60-70%.

In the late 20 century, Green Revolution increased the production of high-yield cereal crops significantly. The new technologies and inventions in that time led to the development of Cereals.


Main Differences Between Millet and Cereal

  1. Millets have edible and small seeds whereas Cereals have non-edible and big seeds.
  2. Common Millet crops are Pearl and Foxtail millet whereas common Cereals are Wheat and Rice.
  3. The term ‘Millet’ is used to describe the small-seeded crops of Cereals but ‘Cereal’ was derived from Ceres, the Roman goddess of harvest and Agriculture.
  4. Millets are rich in potassium and phosphorus whereas Cereals are rich in carbohydrates.
  5. Millets can grow in low rainfall and poor soil but Cereals can’t.
  6. Millet crops are resistant to droughts but Cereal crops are not.
  7. Millets have low economic importance as compared to Cereals.
  8. Millets can be grown as mixed crops but Cereals can’t.
  9. Millet is easier to digest but Cereals aren’t.
Difference Between Millet and Cereal

Last Updated : 15 July, 2023

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