International Year of Millets: IYM23
In recent times, the word ‘millets’ has gained popularity and the world began to notice its importance in the diet. Millets are now considered the trending ancient grains. There is a sudden zest for millet that now we have started to focus on including millet dosas instead of normal rice dosa. Also, many restaurants offer special millet cuisines all over India. The journey of the increasing importance of millets has been under surveillance since 2021. As of 2021, the United Nations declared the year 2023 to be the ‘International Year of Millets’ following India’s proposal. The proposal was supported by 72 countries. The opening ceremony of the International Year of Millets 2023 was held in Rome.
Also check out- Types of Millets: IYM 2023 – My Biology Dictionary
India contributes up to 41 per cent of the world’s millet production. Knowing the fact that India being the largest producer of millet, now wants to establish itself as a global hub for millet production. Its to be noted that why India focuses so much on millet production. Millet has no longer been the food of the poor. As it poses many benefits and solutions to many diet-related challenges and even helps in overcoming food scarcity. Its benefits are not so restricted and can confront many challenges that we will be discussing further in this article.
What actually are millets?
Millets are basically small-seeded grasses belonging to the Poaceae family that are usually grown as cereal grains for human food. These are mainly Kharif crops grown primarily on marginal lands in dry areas in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions. These are cereals like Sorghum (jawar), pearl millet (bajada), foxtail (kangil), finger millet (ragi), little millet (kutki), kodo, and brown top millet. Globally, sorghum is the major millet. Here, one should note that all cereals aren’t millet. The recipes of millets are healthy yet delicious. It can be useful in making pancakes, healthy drinks, and many other tasty dishes.
History of millets
Millet is one of the oldest food and is cultivated since the neolithic era. More correctly, these are not just food but an integral part of thousands of communities all over the country. Millets are originally domesticated cereal crops and staple food across Africa, Asia, and middle Europe. They have even been part of ancient religious scriptures and were consumed during the Indian Bronze Age which is 4500 B.C. In many parts of India millet showers sacred meanings and are the amenities to bless newlyweds.
There was a time when millet was taken daily in the diet. However, millet gradually disappeared from the daily diet due to the shift in people’s taste to instant and junk foods. And now millet was considered to be the food of the poor and left underprivileged. As a result, this has led to many health-related challenges. Now, it’s time to bring back millet into our diet.
Prime Minister’s views on millet
This can be very well understood by what our honourable Prime Minister says about the production of millet in India and all over the world. He says that the food that we have left is now been included in the diet globally. Be it any food like Sorghum, Finger millet, Kodo millet, Barnyard millet, Pearl millet, Little millet, etc. Like these, there are many grains that were part of our diet daily. But as time changed, we looked outdated. And started to care about what the people will think about us if we will eat this food. These are all traditional stuff that is far from new advanced cuisine. So, we left these somewhere far behind that now we don’t even know how to cook dishes with millet.
We even have separated grains on the basis of the rich man’s and poor man’s food. And left millet as the food of the poor. Now, these nutritious grains are in full demand worldwide. When we go online shopping, we are astonished to see the price of millet is very high. The food that people were not agreeing to take for free, now people are searching for it at Rs.1000/Kg. Now, our work is on how to stand out in global marketing and how to do better packaging. The time has come to fill the treasure with nutrition. In India, the work on the Millet Revolution is to be increased.
Importance of millet production
In this paragraph, we will be discussing the importance of millet. Millet is very high in nutritive value thus, it is called the powerhouse of nutrition. Moreover, Agriculture Ministry declared millets as ‘Nutri-Cereals’. Millets contain 7-12% protein, 2-5% fat, 65-75% carbohydrates, and 15-20% dietary fibre. Millets can help tackle lifestyle problems and health challenges such as obesity and diabetes as they are gluten-free.
In comparison to other crops, they have a number of benefits, including drought and insect tolerance. Additionally, they can survive harsh conditions and infertile soils. They can also release oxygen while absorbing maximum carbon dioxide from the air. Therefore, these are superfoods for everyone and grow abundantly while being environmentally resilient. They have advantages like using 70% less water than paddy, growing in half the time as wheat, need 40% less energy in processing. It is very useful in keeping a check on water run-off and aids soil conversation in erosion-prone areas.
When compared to rice and wheat flour, millets like jowar, bajra, and ragi have a substantially low glycemic index, which is a measurement of how much a diet raises your blood sugar levels. Of course, to keep our digestive system healthy, we need to take fibre as a major part of our diet. They also include more fibre per serving than foods like rice, wheat, etc. Millets are rich sources of high levels of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C (which aids in the absorption of iron), vitamin B complex, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Objectives of the International Year of Millets
PM Modi’s vision of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam” meaning The World is One Family, the International Year of Millet 2023 celebration is an opportunity for India to promote Nutri-cereal millets globally and place them in the world’s ‘food map’. Some most important objectives of declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets are:
- Promote awareness of the contribution of millet to food security and nutrition internationally.
- Inspire stakeholders on improving sustainable production and quality of millet.
- Draw attention to raising investment in research and development and generating opportunities for farmers to achieve better connectivity markets.
With an increasing climate crisis and aggravating environmental stresses, there is an upraise in the need for crop diversification by promoting crops suitable for cultivation in the toughest of environments. Several objectives have combined aim at achieving sustainable development goals.
Contribution of Odisha in promoting millets
Approximately, five years ago, a movement driven by women’s self-help groups, started with the handing out of leaflets, loudspeaker announcements from vans, and seed distribution among villagers, etc. The mission was named Odisha Millets Mission (OMM) and launched in 2017.
- OMM is the first agricultural initiative taken to encourage the cultivation of nutrition-rich millets in the eastern Indian state.
- The objective of the mission goes beyond bringing millet, the traditional food of Odisha’s tribes, back on plates. It aims at strengthening the livelihoods and food security of smallholder farmers by encouraging them to adopt the climate-resilient crop and, at the same time, by creating demand.
This was the time when millet production regained recognition and began to stand out as a global practice. In conclusion, this year is going to be a big year for India and revolutionary for the production of millet raising the Indian economy and enhancing the nutritional value of our daily diet. Eradicating food scarcity, poverty, and malnutrition, and providing grains at affordable prices to the world.
Keep reading for more on millets and let’s make the most out of the International year of millets.