millet

International Year of Millets 2023: India taking the lead.

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The United Nations has declared 2023 the International Year of Millet, recognizing the importance of this crop in promoting sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition. Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses that people have been growing and eating for thousands of years. However, the production and consumption of millet have dropped significantly in recent years.

India, one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of millet, is taking the lead in promoting this crop and its benefits. The Indian government has already taken steps to increase millet production and consumption, such as promoting millets under the National Food Security Mission, starting the “Millet Mission” to boost productivity, and adding millets to the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in schools.

Promoting millet is good for food and nutrition security, as well as for the environment and the economy. Millets are drought-resistant, require less water and fertilizer, and can be grown on marginal lands. They are also a source of income for small and marginal farmers. So, the International Year of Millets 2023 is a chance to spread the word about millets’ nutritional and environmental benefits and encourage their production and use worldwide.

Why is 2023 declared a millet year?

The United Nations has declared 2023 the International Year of Millet to raise awareness about the importance of this crop in achieving global food and nutrition security. Millets have been an important staple food for millions of people worldwide for thousands of years. But their production and consumption have decreased because of changing eating habits, low yields, and the need for more people to know how healthy they are.

The declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets aims to promote the production, consumption, and trade of millets at the global level. The year will give governments, civil society groups, and the private sector a chance to work together and spread the word about the benefits of millet in terms of food security, nutrition, and protecting the environment.

The promotion of millet is crucial in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), and SDG 3 (good health and well-being). Millets are a source of affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for many people, especially in developing countries. They are also important for smallholder farmers, particularly in areas with low rainfall and poor soil fertility.

Overall, the International Year of Millets 2023 provides an opportunity to showcase the potential of millets in promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems, improving nutrition, and addressing poverty and hunger.

International Year of Millets 2023: How India is taking the lead?

India is leading the way in promoting millets and their benefits during the International Year of Millets 2023. Here are some of the measures taken by India to promote millet:

1.    Policy Support:

The Indian government has initiated various policies and schemes to promote millet. For example, the government has included millets under the National Food Security Mission to increase production, launched the “Millet Mission” to improve productivity, and introduced millets in the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in schools to promote their consumption.

2.    Research and Development:

India also invests in research and development activities to improve millet production and processing. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has established several centers for millet research, and the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) is dedicated to promoting millet-based farming systems.

3.    Capacity Building:

India also conducts various capacity-building activities to promote millet, such as training programs for farmers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The Millet Processing and Value Addition Training Center in Karnataka exemplifies such an initiative.

4.    International Collaboration:

India collaborates with other countries and international organizations to promote millets globally. For example, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has partnered with the Indian government to promote millets in Africa and other parts of the world.

Why is increasing the consumption and production of millet important to India?

Increasing the consumption and production of millet is important to India for several reasons. First, millets are an important source of nutrition for millions of people, especially those living in rural areas. They are gluten-free and high in protein, fiber, and minerals, making them suitable foods for people with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders.

Second, millets do well in India’s climate and can be grown in many agroecological zones, even in places with little rain and poor soil. This makes them a valuable crop for smallholder farmers, who often face climate change and land degradation challenges.

Third, promoting millet can contribute to India’s food security and help reduce its dependence on rice and wheat. Diversifying the food basket with millets can also help mitigate the impact of climate change on agriculture, as millets are more drought-resistant than other cereals.

Finally, promoting millet can also have positive environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Millets require less water and fertilizer than other cereals, which can help reduce water stress and environmental pollution. They are also a source of income for small and marginal farmers, particularly women, who are often involved in millet cultivation and processing.

Millets as Smart-Foods: Significance and Benefits:

Millets are often called “smart foods” because of their numerous health benefits. They don’t have gluten and have a lot of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, which makes them a great addition to a healthy diet. Here are some of the significance and benefits of consuming millet:

1.    Nutritional Benefits:

Millets are rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium, important for bone health, energy production, and maintaining a healthy immune system. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes digestion and helps prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

2.    Low Glycemic Index:

Millets have a low glycemic index, which means they slowly release glucose into the bloodstream, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. This makes them an ideal food for people with diabetes or those trying to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

3.    Environmental Sustainability:

Millets are drought-resistant and require less water than other cereals, making them a sustainable crop that can be grown in arid regions.

4.    Economic Benefits:

Small-scale farmers, especially in developing countries where millets are a traditional crop, can make a lot of revenue from millet farming.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the International Year of Millets 2023 provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of millets and promote their consumption and production at the national and global levels. India is leading in promoting millet and its benefits through policy support, research and development, capacity building, and international collaboration. India can progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and help solve problems with nutrition, food security, climate change, and rural development by promoting millet.

Also, promoting millet as a “smart food” can be good for people’s and communities health, as well as for the environment and the economy. Governments, farmers, researchers, business owners, and consumers must all work together to spread the word about millets and their benefits and ensure they will continue to be grown and eaten in the future.

FAQs

1.    What is the International Year of Millets 2023, and why is India taking the lead in promoting millets?

Answer: The International Year of Millet 2023 is a global initiative to promote millet consumption and production. India is taking the lead in promoting millet because it is an important crop in India, providing nutrition and livelihood to millions of people. Promoting millet can contribute to addressing issues related to food security, climate change, and rural development.

Answer: Promoting millets can contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture by promoting the consumption and production of a sustainable, nutritious, and climate-resilient crop. Millets are well-suited to smallholder farming, require less water and fertilizer than other cereals, and have numerous health benefits, making them an ideal food for improving nutrition and reducing poverty.

3.    What are the health and environmental benefits of consuming and promoting millet, and how can consumers and entrepreneurs get involved?

Answer: The health benefits of consuming millet include improved digestion, bone health, and stable blood sugar levels, while the environmental benefits include reduced water stress, soil erosion, and pollution. Consumers and entrepreneurs can promote millets by supporting local farmers, purchasing millet products, and promoting the benefits of millets to their communities. They can also engage in research and development, policy advocacy, and capacity building to promote millets and their benefits.

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