NEW DELHI, 23 November 2017 : Indian agriculture & farmers welfare minister Radha Mohan Singh has sent a proposal to United Nations for declaring the year 2018 as ‘International Year of Millets’.
The proposal, if agreed, will raise awareness about millets among consumers, policymakers, industry, and R&D sector.
Promotion of production and consumption of millets through conscious efforts at the global level is likely to contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in the long run. Popularizing millets would benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers, Indian agriculture ministry said in a statement.
Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals and includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
An important staple cereal crop for millions of smallholder dryland farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, millets offer nutrition, resilience, income, and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times.
They have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels, and brewing. Therefore, millets are Smart Food as they are Good for You, Good for the Farmer and Good for the Planet.
Nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their higher levels of protein with a more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber & minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous, millets can provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
The anemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets.
Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten-free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants.
Adapted to low or no purchased inputs and to harsh environment of the semi-arid tropics, they are the backbone for dryland agriculture.
Photo-insensitive & resilient to climate change, millets are hardy, resilient crops that have a low carbon and water footprint, can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.
In times of climate change, they are often the last crop standing and, thus, are a good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers.
Image Credit: berkeley.edu