History and economic importance. There are divergent opinions about the origin of bajra or pearl millet (Pennisetum americanuniy. of the Grarnincac family (Fig. 15.6). Some are of the view that it originated in Africa, while others think that it was first planted on the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. Still others maintain that it was sown in south east Asia, especially the region of China from Where its cultivation spread to other continents of the world.
Bajra is a dual-purpose crop grown throughout the country both for grain and fodder. It has good tolerance for drought. Its green fodder contains 1.50% protein, 0.33% fat, and 6.89% crude fibre. It has minimal input requirements and therefore gives a reasonable return of fodder on medium as well as light soils. Mixed cropping of bajrn with maize and sorghum is very popular.
Climate and soils. Millet is a warm-weather crop and is preferred in areas where water scarcity is often experienced. It is extensively sown in the dry and arid regions of Pakistan. In Punjab, its cultivation is concentrated in the barani areas of Pothwar and the dry region of Bahawalpur. In Sindh, the areas known for millet cultivation arc Tharparkar, Hydcrabad, Nawab- shah, and Dacu. In NWFP, it is largely sown in Kohut ami 0.1. Khan. It is cultivated in almost all the districts of Balochistan.
It does best on light sandy loam soils.
Seedbed preparation and manuring. To prepare a good seedbed, the land is given two or three ploughings, each followed by planking. Two-and-a- half bags each of urea and DAP, “or five bags of Nitrophos per hectare at planting arc sufficient.
Seed rate and method of sowing. For fodder crops,10-15 kg seed per hectare is used, while for seed crops 5-8 kg/ha is sufficient. The broadcast method of sowing is common for fodder. Crops, but sowing in lines 30 cm apart gives better results for grain crops sowing time. Fodder crops are planted in March-July. Grain crops should be planted with the onset of the monsoon.
Interculture and weeding . The crop does not require hoeing, but seed crops should be kept free of weeds to get a good return.
Irrigation. Two or three irrigations are sufficient for fodder crops. The first irrigation should be given three weeks after sowing, and subsequent irrigations should be applied as needed
Pests and diseases. Fodder crops usually remain free of insect pests. Sometimes under humid conditions grain crops are: slightly or moderately affected by leaf spot, green ear, or grain smut. Time of harvesting. Fodder crops should be harvested at the ear initiatibn or 25% heading stage.
Seed production. Seed crops give better seed return if seed-eating birds are scared away regularly after the seeds have matured.
Cultivars. Two cultivars, ‘A 1/3′ and ’18-BY’, are recommended by the Department of Agriculture’. ‘MB-87’ is another promising line, which besides
Gram gives three cuttings of fodder when planted in March in irrigated areas. It is in the final stages of testing.
Yield. Forage yields range from 40-50 t/ha, and seed yield is around 1000-1200 kg/ha.