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Centre looks to brand ‘India-grown’ millets for global market

  • Category
    Economy
  • Published
    9th Mar, 2022

Context

India’s request to declare 2023 as the global year of millets has been approved at the UN General Assembly recently.

India had formally requested the UN in 2018 to declare 2023 as the global year of millets, which was approved at the UN General Assembly in 2022.

About

About Millets:

  • Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for human food and as fodder. 
  • In India, millets have been mentioned in some of the oldest Yajurveda texts, thus indicating that millet consumption was very common, pre-dating to the Indian Bronze Age (4,500BC).
  • Millets have come to be looked down upon by modern urban consumers as “coarse grains”.
  • Before Green Revolution, millets made up around 40 percent of all cultivated grains (contributing more than wheat and rice).
  • However, since the revolution, the production of rice has increased doubly and wheat production has tripled.
  • Millets are often referred to as Superfood and its production can be seen as an approach for sustainable agriculture and a healthy world.

Millets in India:

  • Some of the common millets available in India are Ragi (Finger millet), Jowar (Sorghum), Sama (Little millet), Bajra (Pearl millet), and Variga (Proso millet).
  • Along with that, India grows a rich array of bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “small millets” like kodo, kutki, chenna and sanwa.
  • Major producers include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.

Importance:

  • Due to its high resistance against harsh conditions, millets are sustainable to the environment, to the farmer growing it, and provide cheap and high nutrient options for all.
  • Nearly 40 percent of the food produced in India is wasted every year.
  • Millets do not get destroyed easily, and some of the millets are good for consumption even after 10-12 years of growing, thus providing food security, and playing an important role in keeping a check on food wastage.
  • Millet is fibrous in content, has magnesium, Niacin (Vitamin B3), is gluten-free and has high protein content.
  • Anti-diabetes quality: 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 fibre and antioxidants.
  • Millet ingestion helps in a slower release of glucose over a longer period of time; thus, due to low glycaemic index (GI), their habitual intake reduces the risk of diabetes mellitus.
  • More sustainable: Besides, millets help in reducing the atmospheric CO2 and thus contribute in mitigating the climate change.
  • On the contrary, paddy is a major contributor to climate change through methane emission (the green-house gas emanating from water-drenched rice fields).
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