We applauded a recent event held by the UN and FAO in Rome on December 6, 2022, to kick off the International Year of Millets 2023 (IYOM2023). The Indian government’s decision to recognise millets around the world was remarkable. It is encouraging to see the IYOM2023, which is supported by more than 70 countries, gain traction. The FICCI Task Force on Millets welcomes and congratulates the Government of India for this outstanding achievement. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MAFW), Government of India, has been actively taking many efforts for its success.
India is one of the top producers of millets in the world, accounting for 20 per cent of worldwide and 80 per cent per of Asian production. According to a survey by MAFW, pearl millet (bajra), sorghum, and finger millet account for 98 per cent of all millet produced in India, with pearl millet alone accounting for 60 per cent of production and 56 per cent of area. As a result, there is enormous potential for both farmers and consumers, and it is crucial to enhance the millet value chain.
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In order to improve the profitability for farmers, the welfare of consumers, the efficiency, and the competitiveness of the Indian millet value chain, the FICCI Task Force wants to enable effective partnerships. The marketing of millet needs to spread over many states and districts with the help of knowledgeable partners and helpful technology. Millets are a well-recognised food source since they are high in nutrients, come from rainfed crops, require less water, and are less harmful to the environment. Due to this, millet is a true superfood for eaters, farmers, and the environment. Millets are becoming more and more well-known for their nutritional benefits, and this is attracting a growing number of companies in the food businesses who want to use interesting and innovative products to spread the word about these benefits to a wider consumer base.
Making a platform to connect all participants in the millet value chain is one of the crucial areas we need to concentrate on. This platform will support our efforts to increase the accessibility and acceptance of millets in India and around the world through collaboration, understanding of the issues, support, investment, and the use of cutting-edge technology.
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The IYOM2023 is a step in the right direction for promoting diversity and the millets’ nutritional and ecological advantages to consumers, producers, value chain participants, and decision-makers; doing so will ultimately strengthen the links between the food sector and lead to a better, more nutrient-dense future. Therefore, let’s work toward our objectives, recognise 2023 as the International Year of Millets, and push for “millets on every plate.”
(The author is Chairman of FICCI Task Force on Millets and Director Seeds, South Asia at Corteva Agriscience. Views expressed in the article are author’s own.)