The Indian Army has approached government to reintroduce millet flour in the rations to soldiers as well as officers. The move comes in the backdrop of the United Nations, at the behest of government of India, declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

The Army officially stated, that it has sought to procure millets flour not exceeding 25 percent of the authorised entitlement of cereals (rice and wheat atta), in rations for troops commencing from 2023-24 onwards. Three popular varieties of millets flour -- bajra, jowar and ragi -- will be issued to troops based on their preferences, the Army clarified.

Millets have the benefit of being a good source of proteins, micro-nutrients and phyto-chemicals thus boosting the nutritional profile of a soldier’s diet.

This landmark decision will ensure troops are supplied with native and traditional grains after over half a century, when these were discontinued in favour of wheat atta, the Army stated. “Traditional millets with proven health benefits and suited to our geographical and climatic conditions would be a vital step in mitigating lifestyle diseases and enhancing satisfaction and morale of the troops, the Army observed.

In addition, the Army headquarters have issued advisories for millets to be extensively used in organised functions, barakhanas, canteens and in home cooking. Centralised training of chefs is being undertaken to prepare wholesome, tasty and nutritious millet dishes, the Army stated. Special emphasis for introducing value added millet items and snacks to troops deployed along northern borders have been given.

Millet foods are being introduced through CSD canteens as well as dedicated corners are being set up in shopping complexes. ‘Know your Millet’ awareness campaigns are also being conducted in educational institutions. Large consumption of traditional grains by the armed forces will boost production of millets in the country which otherwise is one of its largest producers. It’s said to be good for the environment as well since farmers have been increasingly planting bajra, jowar, ragi, among others as a drought-resistant crop.

India had declared 2018 as National Year for Millets to encourage consumption of millets for nutrition security.