Farming in Saudi Arabia: Harvesting millet in Jazan

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Credit: SG/SPA

I want to be here in Jazan! Jazan is a province in Southern Saudi Arabia. It’s probably known now for the new Economic City, but for years it was widely known for a different reason. It was famous for the production of sorghum and millet.

What are sorghum and millet you ask?

Both of these are very old cereal crops, which are grown today as grains for humans and fodder for animals. Since rice became very popular, rarely do we hear of these old grains. Despite the benefits of these grains, nutritionists consider these grains “pauper food” and instead, promote the “wonderful benefits” of bleached, polished white rice. Some nutritionists also have no idea what barley or millet are!

Sorghum is native to nearly all tropical and subtropical continents, and Saudi Arabia is no exception. Millet comes from West Africa, and since Saudi Arabia was once part of West Africa, it’s no surprise that millet grows in Jizan.

The great thing about these grains is they are drought and heat tolerant. They also grow very well in poor soils. Millet and sorghum have short growing seasons, so a farmer can continuously have a crop to sell.

Millet is such a versatile grain with numerous health benefits. It is alkalinising, extremely beneficial for the pancreas and for those who suffer from Diabetes. (I will go into greater detail in a later post.)
Millet can be served sweet or savoury. You can make a millet pilaf, use it mashed as a topping for shepherds pie, mash it with some cauliflower to make millet mashed potatoes or cook it with some squash or sweet potato. For sweet dishes, you can cook it to a porridge like consistency with apples, raisins and cinnamon. It can be used as a crust too for a tart topped with berries in the summer and pears in other months.

A lot of people are afraid to add something new to their diet, especially things they’ve never tried before or have heard of. I would be too! However, if you’re willing to try a new cake or a new chocolate bar, you should try adding millet to your diet too. I mainly suggest adding millet because it’s easier to get hold of. Millet is found in Biobest, Lulu and Carrefour in Riyadh. Millet is in Danube and Abazeer in Jeddah.

Go on, try it! I dare you!

P.S. Our sorghum in Riyadh started sprouting. I’ll post a picture tomorrow.

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