International Year of Millets: Pre-launch event
The Government of India has kickstarted the pre-launch celebration in a big way and has planned a total of 23 international events through APEDA and MEA. The international events will encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration and include B2B, B2G and G2G interactions, showcasing millet-based value-added products. The Indian diaspora, Indian embassies, chefs, the media and the community at large will play crucial roles to promote millets and IYOM 2023.
A pre-launch celebration of the International Year of Millets (IYOM) was held on November 24 in New Delhi. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar attended the event, where High Commissioners and Ambassadors to India from several countries were also present.
Both the ministers shared the vision of the government for the successful celebration of 2023 as the IYOM.
Jaishankar said millets had increasing relevance in the world today in the backdrop of COVID, climate change, and conflicts. He stressed that millets are important for food security as well as international relations.
COVID was a period that reminded the world what a pandemic could do to food security, he said, adding that climate changes can lower production and disrupt trade. He suggested that in international relations, much greater attention ought to be given to food security.
Tomar said that the IYOM would raise awareness about the importance of millets in food security and nutrition.
He said that India was one of the major producers of millet and added that millets were a climate-friendly crop that could be grown even in drought-hit areas. He said that his Ministry was working in a mission mode to increase millet consumption and production.
A video showcasing the miraculous impact of millets on consumers, farmers and mother earth was shown at the beginning to make the delegates walk through a visual journey of the ‘super grain’.
A special ‘millet luncheon’ was organized on the occasion to highlight the diversity of Indian millets and the variety of millet cuisines.
Alongside the millet culinary experience and formal interaction, around 30 millet-based Indian start-ups participated in an exhibition at the event venue to showcase various food products, including ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook millet items.
The key objective of this initiative is to spread awareness among the public about the health benefits of Indian millets and engage with other nations for a successful global celebration of the IYOM.
Millets are a rich source of protein, fibre, minerals, iron and calcium. These are being increasingly recognised as climate-smart crops with enormous nutritional and health benefits, grown and consumed in the Indian sub-continent for ages.
India is a major producer of millets, accounting for 80 per cent of Asia’s production and 20 per cent of the global output.
The Government of India has kickstarted the pre-launch celebration in a big way and has planned a total of 23 international events through APEDA and MEA.
The international events will encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration and include B2B, B2G and G2G interactions, showcasing millet-based value-added products. The Indian diaspora, Indian embassies, chefs, the media and the community at large will play crucial roles to promote millets and IYOM 2023.
At the recent G20 summit in Bali (Indonesia), Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the benefits of millets, saying that these could solve the global malnutrition and hunger problem.
He had also highlighted that India was promoting natural farming and re-popularizing nutritious and traditional foodgrains like millets for sustainable food security and had urged all to celebrate the IYOM with great enthusiasm next year.
According to the United Nations' estimates, the global population is projected to reach 8.5bn by 2030 and 9.7bn by 2050.
In such a situation, there is a need for more production of food grains, especially millets, to meet the food needs of the rapidly growing global population.
Estimates show that more than 90mn people in Africa and Asia depend on millets for their diets. Millets are growing in popularity as a superfood in the world.
Jowar, bajra, ragi, foxtail millet, buckwheat and amaranthus are some examples of millets grown in 131 countries. These contain many health benefits as they are gluten-free and non-allergic.
Millets reduce anaemia, liver disorders, and asthma. Their high dietary fibre provides hunger satisfaction and helps reduce obesity and the risk of type-II diabetes.
Millets contain substantially high amounts of proteins, fibre and minerals compared to fine cereals like rice and wheat.
(Subhashis Mittra is a New Delhi-based senior journalist, freelance writer, political commentator and public policy analyst.)