Heaven Mail Global Bureau
2023 is approaching ,and masses throughout the world have expressed lot of hope that year 2023 would bring positive things in life.
India has taken right steps as it has successfully got via United Nations 2023 year declared as year of millets .
Millet is a common term for categorising small-seeded grasses that are often called Nutri-cereals. Some of them are sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi), little millet (kutki), foxtail millet (kakun), proso millet (cheena), barnyard millet (sawa), and kodo millet (kodon).
An essential staple cereal crop for millions of smallholder dryland farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, millets offer nutrition, resilience, income and livelihood for farmers, and have multiple uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing.
In a big success for country, government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi spearheaded the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution for declaring the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets and the proposal of India was supported by 72 countries.
India pushed for recognising the importance of millet and creating a domestic and global demand along with providing nutritious food to the community.
Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare on Monday put out a detailed explainer about millets, its benefits, history, and India’s policy intervention and initiatives to promote such nutrition-rich cereals.
Millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher protein levels and a more balanced amino acid profile. Millets also contain various phytochemicals which exert therapeutic properties owing to their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
Further, besides being climate resilient, millet grains are rich sources of nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibre, and good-quality fat; minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and B complex vitamins.
Most importantly, millet production is not dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers.
Millets were traditionally consumed, but due to the push given to food security through Green Revolution in the 1960s, millets were less consumed and almost forgotten.
Before the Green Revolution, millets made up around 40 per cent of all cultivated grains, which has dropped to around 20 per cent over the years.
Not only has the consumption of millets declined, but the area under production has been replaced with commercial crops, oilseeds, pulses and maize. These commercial crops are profitable, and their production is supported by several policies through subsidised inputs, incentivised procurement and inclusion in the Public Distribution System. This has resulted in changes in dietary patterns with preferential consumption towards fine-calorie-rich cereals.
India produces more than 170 lakh tonnes of millet, which is 80 per cent of Asia’s and 20 per cent of global production.
India produces all the nine commonly known millets and is the largest producer and fifth-largest exporter of millets in the world. Most of the states in India grow one or more millet crop species. Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu.
Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Mali, Nigeria, and Niger), with 97% of millet production in developing countries.This crop is favored due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions.
Millets are indigenous to many parts of the world. The most widely grown millets are sorghum and pearl millets, which are important crops in India and parts of Africa.Finger millet, proso millet, and foxtail millet are also important crop species.
Millets may have been consumed by humans for about 7,000 years and potentially had “a pivotal role in the rise of multi-crop agriculture and settled farming societies.
Millets, however, do respond to high fertility and moisture. On a per-hectare basis, millet grain production can be 2–4 times higher with use of irrigation and soil supplements. Improved breeds of millet with enhanced disease resistance can significantly increase farm yield. There has been cooperation between poor countries to improve millet yields. For example, ‘Okashana 1’, a variety developed in India from a natural-growing millet variety in Burkina Faso, doubled yields. This breed was selected for trials in Zimbabwe. From there it was taken to Namibia, where it was released in 1990 and enthusiastically adopted by farmers. ‘Okashana 1’ became the most popular variety in Namibia, the only non-Sahelian country where pearl millet—locally known as mahangu—is the dominant food staple for consumers. ‘Okashana 1’ was then introduced to Chad. The breed has significantly enhanced yields in Mauritania and Benin.
Specialized archaeologists called palaeoethnobotanists, relying on data such as the relative abundance of charred grains found in archaeological sites, hypothesize that the cultivation of millets was of greater prevalence in prehistory than rice, especially in northern China and Korea. Millets also formed important parts of the prehistoric diet in Indian, Chinese Neolithic and Korean Mumun societies.
2023 declared as year of millets is a big boost for India.