Branding of millets and leveraging social media through food vloggers will help boost exports of millets, according to stakeholders in the sector.

Participating in a session on ‘Increasing Millet Exports’ at the NABARD and businessline millets conclave 2023, Raj Seelam, Founder and Managing Director of Shresta Bio Natural Products Pvt Ltd, made a case for engaging an advertising agency to popularise millets, and also take the help of food vloggers to popularise millet-based cuisine in overseas markets.

Seelam stressed on the need for targeting a larger export market for Indian millets. Most of the millets exported goes for feed purpose, mainly sorghum, while pearl millet is consumed by the diaspora. 

Major food trends

Highlighting the major food trends in the global market, where the demand for plant-based and superfoods such as jackfruit and quinoa has picked up, Seelam said there was huge scope for millets, and that we should actively promote them in the overseas markets.

“We need to brand our millets to tap the export opportunity better,” said Vishala Reddy, Director of Millets Bank. Key approaches to tap export markets are capacity building, tap new markets, promote higher value, brand Indian millets, traceability, and R&D seeding, among others, Reddy said. While consumer behaviour is about traceability, there is a need for all to work together and take a long-term approach to make it successful, said Reddy, while stating that export promotion has to be engagement oriented.

MSP intervention

MSP interventions will definitely help farmers as commercial viability at the farm level is crucial, said Nitin Gaikwad, Senior Manager of ITC Agri Business. Farmers need to be incentivised in terms of absorbing the costs of certifications, which are high, he said.

Gaikwad also stressed on the need for a precise GST categorisation on processed millet products, a move that could help boost exports.

Highlighting the initiatives taken by APEDA, Assistant General Manager, RP Naidu, said that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nepal and Bangladesh were the major markets where millets are exported to. APEDA has been participating in various trade fairs such as Biofachs and GulfFood overseas for promotion of millets, besides providing financial assistance to the tune of 40 per cent of the cost of equipment for processing of millets by exporters, said Naidu.

The session was moderated by Prabhudatta Mishra, Senior Assistant Editor, businessline. APEDA and Troo Good are associate partners of the conclave.