The International Year of Millets 2023, as announced by the United Nations, has come early for India, with the Union Government, States and other stakeholders making a jump-start with a flurry of activities.
The Union Government has announced a long line-up of events as a run-up where school children, colleges, government institutes, communities and start-ups will take part, promoting millets and creating awareness of the importance of its consumption.
Vending machines for millets
“Hackathons for start-ups and quizzes and other competitions for school children will be organised in the next few weeks. Vending machines that dispense millet products will be set up across government offices,” Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary (Crops, Oilseeds and Administration) of Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, said.
Addressing the inaugural of the National Nutri Cereal Convention 4.0 here on Friday, she said a coordinated effort involving Central and State agencies would be required to improve the millet ecosystem in the country.
While a host of activities will be kicked off well ahead of January 1, the government would organise an event early next year where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally inaugurate the year-long activities to celebrate the International Year of Millets 2023.
Delivering the keynote address Ashok Dalwai, Chief Executive Officer of Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), said an incremental increase in the area of nutri-cereals (millets) would not help. “We should attempt to achieve an area that accounts for at least one-third of the territory under cereals to make an impact,” he said.
Stating that area under nutri cereals had come down in the last few decades, he pitched for a sharp increase in productivity to make it profitable.
Citing the examples of the US and Italy, he said the productivity in the US was at 4.2 tonnes a hectare, while it was 6.2 tonnes in Italy. “Compare this with just 1.2 tonnes. While the productivity at the experiments stands at 5 tonnes, farmers are able to produce only 1.2 tonnes,” he said.
Over 600 delegates have attended the fourth edition of the conference. Several start-ups that developed products and services around millets have set up stalls.
Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, Telangana Minister for Agriculture, has appealed to the Union Government to include millets in the public distribution system (PDS) to create demand and to incentivise the millet farmers.