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India, ASEAN launch 5-day ‘Millets fest‘

  • Published
    23rd Nov, 2023

Recently, India and ASEAN has launched a five-day Millets Festival in Jakarta.

Key Highlights-

  • The ASEAN-India Millets Festival starts on November 22, featuring a diverse representation, including Indian farmers, industrialists, and participants from ASEAN member states.
  • The festival is a result of the effective working of the comprehensive strategic partnership between ASEAN and India, highlighted during the ASEAN-India Summit.
  • The initiative stems from a joint statement on food security adopted during the ASEAN-India Summit, emphasizing millets as a crucial element for ensuring food security.
  • Millets are recognized as a sustainable and farmer-friendly food choice, aligning with efforts to address global hunger and nutrient deficiencies.
  • The Millet Festival sees participation not only from Indian farmers and industrialists but also from ASEAN member states, reflecting significant interest in millets.
    • The event features a Millet-centric exhibition with contributions from Millet-based Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), start-ups, and Indian chefs.
  • The Indian Mission to ASEAN and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare jointly organize the ASEAN-India Millets Festival.

What is Millet?

  • Millet is a collective term referring to a number of small-seeded annual grasses that are cultivated as grain crops, primarily on marginal lands in dry areas in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions.
  • Examples: Jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), Kodo (Kodo millet), kutki (little millet), kakun (foxtail millet), Sanwa (barnyard millet), cheena (proso millet), kuttu (buckwheat) and chaulai (amaranth).

The United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

Positives of millets:

  • Nutritionally superior traits: Millet’s score over rice and wheat in terms of minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibre content, as well as amino acid profile.
  • For example, Bajra (pearl millet), has iron, zinc, and protein levels comparable to that of wheat, but it’s gluten-free and has more fibre.
  • It can address the problem of “hidden hunger” arising from the consumption of energy-dense but micronutrients-deficient foods
  • Reduce blood Sugar Level: The rotis from bajra make one feel fuller for longer, as they take more time to digest and do not raise blood sugar levels too fast.

Advantages as a crop:

  • Millets are hardy and drought-resistant crops.
  • This has to do with their short duration (70-100 days, against 115-150 days for rice and wheat)
  • Lower water requirement (350-500 mm versus 600-1,250 mm) and
  • Ability to grow even on poor soils and in hilly terrain.
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