Commonly called Ragi in India, this millet is staple food for the rural folk of south India. In India,Karnataka and Tamilnadu are the principle Ragi growing states, besides Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In India, there are two species of Finger millet, viz., Wild species, Eleusine indica and cultivated species, Eleusine coracana. Whole grains are usually ground and sued to make porridges, puddings, cakes and pancakes. A common food for people in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu is known as ‘Mudde or Ragi Sankati. Ragi dosa, ragi roti, ragi balls, biscuits, crispys and bread are common preparations made in Southern states. Grains are soaked and fermented foods are also prepared. Beverages made of malted ragi are popular in South India. Katti is a special dish prepared from ragi powder by Keralities in Idukki and other districts. Husk from finger millet is used in underground storage, as packaging material in pillows and cushions. Ragi straw is a good fodder, plus it is used in preparing beds for animals.
Ragi is mentioned in India by the ancient Sanskrit writers who refer to it as ‘Rajika’. It is suggested that Eleusine coracana is a cultigens of the wild species Eleusine indica (l.) Gaertn, domesticated by the early man in India. It was under cultivated before Aryans reached the Indian peninsula. DeCandolle (1886) to consider that Eleusine coracanaoriginated in India, from where it spread to Arabia and Africa, nearly 3,000 years ago. Considering its predominant cultivation in southern India, this region is accepted to be the primary centre of its origin. However, Vavilov (1951) proposes that it originated in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Mehra (1963) considers Eleusine coracana to be of African origin and has suggested an earlier migration of this crop plant from Africa to India by way of Soboean Lane. Eleusine indicais considered to be the immediate ancestor of the cultivated form Eleusine coracana.
Ragi is a widely cultivated crop of the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, being grown in Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, china and Japan besides large area in India. In India, it is an important cereal in Karnataka. It is extensively grown in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra and in the hilly regions of Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.