(THE GIST OF PIB) Millets-Smart Nutritive Food conclave

(THE GIST OF PIB) Millets-Smart Nutritive Food conclave


Millets-Smart Nutritive Food conclave

  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is organising ‘Millets-Smart Nutritive Food’ Conclave with the objective of promoting the export of millets. 

About Millets 

  • Millets are a group of small seeded grasses used as cereals. The Indian sub-continent has had a rich heritage of growing them and until very recently millets formed a very large part of our food basket. 
  • Sadly, the production of millets has not been given much attention over the years and our agricultural policies have systematically encouraged production of wheat & rice at the cost of millets and coarse cereals.
  • There is a reduction in the total area under millet cultivation. While in 1965-66 it stood at almost 37 million hectares, it was down to 14.72 million hectares in 2016-17.

Socio-Economic Context of Millets 

  • Millets were considered the food of the poor due to their ability to grow even in the most marginalised of lands, compared to other crops like paddy or wheat which needed more fertile lands and more focus on irrigation and crop management. 
  • Millets were also ideal for rain-fed conditions and saline soils.

Renewed focus

  • A declining diversity in diet which was traditionally a part of our food culture had many significant impacts in terms of the nutrition status amongst women and children.
  • The recent trends show a renewed interest in millets. The government policies are also starting to reflect this renewal. Millets have been included in the public distribution system in Odisha and the government is also promoting millets under the National Food Security Act.  
  • At the behest of the Indian government, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation has approved its proposal to declare the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

Millets — Good for Health, Farmers, & Environment

  • According to a recent study, in the coming years there will be a reduction in production rates of various cereal crops due to climate change. The only crops that could withstand these climate vagaries and not see a negative impact on yield are millets.
  • Millets have a double value in tackling climate change because they contribute to both adaptation and mitigation. 
  • Millets can survive in much higher temperatures and with much less water than most crops. Their overall resilience makes them climate smart and a good adaptation strategy for farmers.
  • Millets also are farmed with minimal fertilizers and pesticides, so they have a lower carbon footprint. Millets compared to rice reduces Greenhouse gases (GHGs) by2% to 13%.
  • Millets are also highly nutritious and have the potential to be a solution to the nutrition crisis facing the country. 
  • A study by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) found that children grew up to 50% more in weight and height parameters on a millet based diet. 
  • Millets are also being hailed as the solution for many lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, gluten allergies and much more.



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Courtesy: PIB