India pushes for millet to ensure food security, tackle climate change

India pushes for millet to ensure food security, tackle climate change

Updated: 4 days, 19 hours, 49 minutes, 9 seconds ago

India has intensified its efforts for a global push to counter the challenges to ensure food security – threatened by Covid-19, conflicts and climate change – through increased millet production and consumption. The disruption of wheat supply, first during Covid and at present due to the Ukraine war, has underlined the importance of creating domestic and global demand for millets as it could resolve the twin problems of food security and climate change.

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The government’s push, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to increase awareness around millet resulted in a significant achievement last year when the UN General Assembly declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. India has already notified millets as nutri-cereals because of its nutritional value – millets are rich source of Protein, Fibre, Minerals, Iron, Calcium and have a low glycemic index. The Modi government is making efforts to popularize nutri-cereals through R&D support and has established three Centres of Excellence (CoE).

India’s focus on food security through increased production of millets was echoed by external affairs minister S Jaishankar during a luncheon on Thursday where he stressed that millets are important for food security as well as international relations.

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"International relations started with food security. The fundamental urge to secure their own food and to see how they can get food from others. That is why we were keen to take the Indian year of millets to the International year of millets," the minister said.

As the world's largest producer of millet, India has been involved in promotion of the crop in various countries through its embassies. The government is now aiming to turn the International Year of Millets into a people’s movement by raising awareness about its benefits for health, farmers as well as the planet. The climate-resilient easy-to-grow crop has a low input cost and takes almost half the time of wheat to mature. Millets improve on-farm biodiversity, have a low carbon footprint, and only need 350-400mm annual rain. Jowar (27%), Bajra (61%), and Ragi (10%) form the major part of India’s millet production. Other varieties of millets grown in India are Little millet (Kutki), Kodo millet, Barnyard millet (Jhangora), and Foxtail millet (Kangani), among others.

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Officials are also confident that increased demand and consumption of millets could significantly contribute towards 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life on land, partnerships for the goals – which are at heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ahead of the IYOM 2023 celebrations, the department of food and public distribution recently directed all their offices to serve millet-based food in their canteens and meetings.

“In order to promote consumption of Millets and in view of their health benefits, all offices of the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) have recently directed to introduce and promote millets in their canteens and in meetings,” the ministry said in a statement.

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“Millet/Ragi Dosa, Millet mix vada, Millet mix Puri and Idli /ragi ladoo etc. to be used in the canteens and as far as possible locally available millet-based products should be used,” the ministry added.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kunal Gaurav

Kunal Gaurav is a multimedia journalist with Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He handles daily editorial operations for the digital news desk, including news tracking, news prioritisation, writing and editing....view detail

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