Millets: The new wonder crop !
SUBHASHIS MITTRA- Wide Angle
Millets - Jowar, Bajra, Ragi - have suddenly emerged as a new wonder crop. From meeting food security to bridging international relations, it has answer to all problems.
No wonder, the year 2023 has been declared as the International Year of Millets.
A pre-launch celebration of the International Year of Millets was held in New Delhi on November 24.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar attended the event where High Commissioners and Ambassadors to India from several countries were also present.
Both the ministers shared the vision of the government for the successful celebration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
Jaishankar said millets have increasing relevance in the world today in the backdrop of COVID, climate change, and conflicts. He stressed that millets are important for food security as well as international relations.
COVID was a period that reminded the world what a pandemic could do to food security, he said, adding that climate changes can lower production and disrupt trade. He suggested that in international relations, much greater attention ought to be given to food security.
Agriculture Minister Tomar said the International Year of Millets will raise awareness about the importance of millets in food security and nutrition.
He said India is one of the major producers of millet and added that millets are a climate-friendly crop that can be grown even in drought-hit areas. He said his Ministry is working in a mission mode to increase millets consumption and production.
A video showcasing the miraculous impact of millets on consumers, farmers and the mother earth was shown at the beginning to make the delegates walk through a visual journey of the ‘super grain’.
A special ‘millet luncheon’ was organised on the occasion to highlight the diversity of Indian millets and variety of millet cuisines.
Alongside the millet culinary experience and formal interaction, around 30 millet based Indian start-ups participated in an exhibition at the event venue to showcase various food products, including ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook millet items.
The key objective of this initiative is to spread awareness among the public about the health benefits of Indian millets and engage with other nations for a successful global celebration of the International Year of Millets.
Millets are a rich source of protein, fibre, minerals, iron and calcium. These are being increasingly recognised as climate-smart crops with enormous nutritional and health benefits, grown and consumed in the Indian sub-continent since ages.
India is a major producer of millets, accounting for 80 per cent of Asia’s production and 20 per cent of global output.
The Government of India has kick-started the pre-launch celebration in a big way and has planned a total of 23 international events through APEDA and MEA.
The international events will encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration and include B2B, B2G and G2G interactions, showcasing millet based value-added products. Indian diaspora, Indian embassies, chefs, media and community at large will play crucial roles to promote millets and the International Year of Millets, 2023.
At the recent G20 summit in Bali (Indonesia), Prime Minister Narendra Modi had highlighted the benefits of millets saying that these can solve the global malnutrition and hunger problem.
He had also highlighted that India is promoting natural farming and re-popularising nutritious and traditional foodgrains like millets for sustainable food security and had urged all to celebrate the International Year of Millets with great enthusiasm next year.
According to the United Nations' estimates, the global population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion by 2050.
In such a situation, there is a need for more production of food grains, especially millets, to meet the food needs of the rapidly growing global population.
Estimates show that more than 90 million people in Africa and Asia depend on millets for their diets. Millets are growing in popularity as a superfood in the world.
Jowar, Bajra, Ragi, Foxtail millet, buckwheat, and amaranthus are some examples of millets grown in 131 countries. These contain many health benefits as they are gluten-free and non-allergic.
Millets reduce anemia, liver disorders, and asthma. Their high dietary fiber provides hunger satisfaction and helps reduce obesity and the risk of Type-II Diabetes.
Millets contain substantially high amounts of proteins, fiber and minerals compared to fine cereals like rice and wheat.