Small-scale farming in drylands: New models for resilient practices of millet and sorghum cultivation

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 2 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.


Download Preprint

Supplementary Files

Abel Ruiz-Giralt, Stefano Biagetti, Marco Madella, Carla Lancelotti 


Finger millet, pearl millet and sorghum are amongst the most important drought-tolerant crops worldwide. They constitute primary staple crops in drylands, where their production is known to date back over 5000 years ago. Compared to other crops, millets and sorghum have received less attention until very recently, and their production has been progressively reduced in the last 50 years. Here, we present new models that focus on the ecological factors driving finger millet, pearl millet and sorghum traditional cultivation, with a global perspective. The interaction between environment and traditional agrosystems was investigated by Redundancy Analysis of published literature and tested against novel ethnographic data. Contrary to earlier beliefs, our models show that the total annual precipitation is not the most determinant factor in shaping millet and sorghum agriculture. Instead, our results point to the importance of other variables such as the duration of the plant growing cycle, soil water-holding capacity or soil nutrient availability. This highlights the potential of finger millet, pearl millet and sorghum traditional cultivation practices as a response to recent increase of aridity levels worldwide. Ultimately, these practices can play a pivotal role for resilience and sustainability of dryland agriculture.



Agriculture, Life Sciences, Other Social and Behavioral Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences



Published: 2020-05-11 13:02

Last Updated: 2023-01-18 12:46

Older Versions

CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International