(GIST OF YOJANA) International Year of Millets 2023
International Year of Millets 2023
- The United Nations General Assembly at its 75th session in March 2021 declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYM). The IYM 2023 is an opportunity to raise awareness of, and direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions. It is an occasion to promote the sustainable production of millets while also highlighting their potential to create sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers.
- IYM 2023 aims to contribute to theUN2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on land).
1. The sustainable cultivation of millets can support climate-resilient agriculture [SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land)]
- Millets are often referred to as climate-resilient crops because they can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and maintenance, are tolerant or resistant to diseases and pests and are more resilient to climate shocks than other cereals.
- Including and/or expanding the production of millets in national agricultural systems can support the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.
2. The sustainable production of millets can tight hunger and contribute to food security and nutrition [SDG 2 (End Hunger)]
- In arid areas, millets are very often the only crops that can be harvested in the dry season and are a crucial part of the household food basket. Millets can help to overcome food scarcity in difficult periods, therefore contributing to the food security and nutrition of vulnerable populations.
- Millets can grow in very poor and fertile soils in dryland conditions and do not heavily deplete soil nutrients. By providing land cover in arid areas, they reduce further soil degradation and help support biodiversity and sustainable land restoration.
3. Millets can be an important part of a healthy diet [SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)]
- Millets are good sources of minerals, dietary fibre, antioxidants and protein. With a low glycaemic index, they are a good option for people with high-blood sugar. Millets are also gluten-free and an excellent and cost-effective source of iron for iron-deficient diets.
- As whole grains, each variety of millets provide different amounts and types of fibre. Dietary fibre has a role in regulating bowel function, blood sugar and lipids, and satiation.
4. Greater consumption of millets can offer opportunities to smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods [SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)]
- The production of millets and the demand for them has declined as other cereals such as wheat, maize or rice became a dietary preference. By promoting millets and regaining market opportunities, additional sources of revenue can be created for smallholders and in the food sector, boosting economic growth.
- Millets were among the first plants to be domesticated and for centuries, they have been an important food for hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They are deeply rooted in Indigenous Peoples’ culture and traditions and therefore a strategic crop to guarantee food security in areas where they are culturally relevant.
5. Proper handling of millets is key to maintaining their high quality and nutritional benefits [SDG 2 (End Hunger) and SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)]
- Timely harvesting ensures good grain quality followed by threshing to remove grains from the stalks. Controlled mechanised processes for the dehusking of millets, at any scale, arc more efficient than manual dehusking, as they reduce losses from spillage and provide clean intact grains that are ready for market. Smallholders and supply chain holders benefit accordingly from better incomes and reduced drudgery.
- Innovative agro-processing, especially in the production of nutritious foods, could target both traditional and non-tradilional markets such as youth, urban consumers, tourists, etc. This value addition could lead to market expansion, and increased food and nutrition security and incomes for smallholder fanners.
6. Greater trade in millets can improve the diversity of the global food system [SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production)]
- Millets, including sorghum, account for less than 3% of the global grains trade. With the need to improve the resilience of global trade and its ability to respond to sudden changes in the foodgrain market, millets are a valuable option to increase output diversity and mitigate risks related to production shocks.
- Market structure and transparency, in relation to volumes and prices of millets, are key elements to ensure stability and sustainability. It is important to ensure that millet traders benefit from the same tools as other grain traders, such as digitalisation, which could boost the added value of millet along the grains value chain and consequently provide more revenue opportunities for producers.