Millets are beneficial for the farmers, especially the small farmers. The crop gets ready in a very short time & does not require much water. Millets contain plenty of protein, fiber & minerals.
Many people even call it a superfood. Millets have many benefits. Along with reducing obesity, they also reduce the risk of diabetes, hypertension & heart diseases. They are also helpful in preventing stomach & liver ailments. Millets are very beneficial in fighting malnutrition, since they are packed with energy & protein.
“Millet Challenge” for startups, with a seed grant of Rs 1 crore each to 3 winners, who will help design and develop innovative models for & across the millets value chain.
Rs 25 crore funding by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) to University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, for establishment of Millet Value Chain Park, incubation centre for processing, value addition & capacity building for millet promotion.
“ You may have heard of super-foods; foods that are super nutritious. Millets are this and more, they are basically smart food that is good for you, good for the farmer and good for the planet.”
2023 - Why an international year?
The proposal for an International Year of Millets (2023) was put forth by the Government of India and endorsed by Members of FAO Governing Bodies at the 26th Session of COAG, 160th Session of FAO Council and 41 FAO Conferences. It was adopted by the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly in March 2021. The primary objective of the resolution was to raise awareness and direct policy action to the nutritional and health benefits of millets consumption and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions. And also to draw focus for enhanced investments in R & D and extension services related to millets.
The International Year of Millets (IYoM) will provide a unique opportunity to help create greater awareness of millet production, contribute to food security, nutrition, ensuring livelihoods and incomes of farmers, poverty eradication, particularly in regions that are drought prone or threatened by climate change. It will promote millets as a key component of the food basket; and further advance the implementation of SDGs 2,3,12 and 13. As we commemorate a year since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, we wish to exchange views on the progress made and the plans ahead to continue building the momentum for this important observance.
India currently has around 14 million hectares of land under millets cultivation. These areas include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Production of millets is around 14 million tons a year, with Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka leading in millet farming. Growing awareness amongst consumers regarding health benefits associated with millets consumption will boost the industry’s growth by 2025. Currently, millets are being promoted through technology dissemination, quality seeds through millet seed hubs, awareness generation, minimum support price and inclusion in PDS.
Various innovative interventions have recently been introduced and including, farm level backward integration which converts domestic cultivation to commercial cultivation for meeting health-conscious urban consumer needs. Diversification of processing technologies through developing and retrofitting more than 50 machineries suitable for millets milling to many semi-processed technologies such as baking, cold extrusion, hot extrusion, flaking, popping, puffing, fermentation, malting etc. Nutritional evaluation of millets & their value-added products and clinical trials should be conducted to substantiate the health benefits through empirical data ably supported by NIN and authorities.
CENTRAL GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES
The central government has in place a multi-pronged strategy for the International Year of Millets and as is required all stakeholders including involving FPOs, SHGs, NGOs, farmers, schools, institutions, dietitians, nutritionists, food processing industries, chefs & culinary experts, related interest groups and appropriate communication strategies to create more awareness regarding the benefits of millets. A number of central and state government ministries and agencies are spearheading the campaign for millets to get desired results.
The Extension Division of ICAR has also launched two special programmes viz. Nutri-sensitive Agricultural Resources and Innovations (NARI) and Value Addition and Technology Incubation Centers in Agriculture (VATICA) for up-scaling the biofortified varieties through its Krishi Vigyan Kendras – KVKs.
The central government policies have included Integrated Cereals Development Programmes in Coarse Cereals ICDP-CC, Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion – INSIMP (Part of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna – RKVY) and Rainfed Area Development Programme – RADP, also a component of RKVY.
WHY MILLETS ARE A MODERN AGE IMPERATIVE FOR INDIA & THE WORLD?
Millets are among the first plants to be domesticated and are seen in ancient Indian texts like the Yajurveda dating to pre-historic times. They have been part of the traditional staple diet for hundreds of millions in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for 7 000 years. However, their potential to effectively address livelihood security, health issues, climate change, food security and under/malnourishment is what makes millets an imperative for India and the world.
India has one of the world’s highest demographics of a population that suffers from poverty, hunger, disease, malnutrition, under-nourishment and micro-deficient food. Hence, the need to promote the diversity, nutritional and ecological benefit of millets to consumers, producers, value chain players and key decision-makers across public, private and individual sectors to improve food sector linkages is vital. Promotion of millets is crucial for India and the planet because:
- Millets are especially the poor person’s staple
- Millets have a low carbon and water footprints
- Millets are gluten-free, non-allergenic & good for immunity
- Millets have low chemical inputs such as fertilizers & pesticides
- Millets cultivation requires comparatively fewer inputs than other cereals
- Millets farming, processing, marketing can provide employment to millions
- Millets contain calcium, iron & fibres which help to fortify essential nutrients
- Millets can grow on relatively poor soils and under adverse or arid conditions
- Millets have high nutritional content – protein, phytochemicals & micronutrients
- Millets form the essential raw material for potable alcohol and starch production
- Millets ensure food & feed to millions of dry-land farmers & those in hilly regions
- Millets are considered “nutri-cereals” & are superior to other cereals in many ways
- Millets are critical & appealing for all – developed, developing & undeveloped nations
- Millets cycle from sowing to harvest is about 2 – 4 months making for multiple cropping
- Millets usage in infant food, processed foods, nutrition products & as a healthy alternative is increasing
Millets are useful in correcting diet disorders – anaemia and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, etc.