Tara Satyavathi, Director of the Indian Institute of Millets Research (ICAR-IIMR), said on Friday the millet ecosystem needs to change gears to tap newer markets such as North India, where people predominantly eat rotis and chapatis and diversify the product offerings in order to expand the base.

She called for the development of technologies to include millets in rotis and chapatis to tap into the huge market in North India. “We should focus on how to make it happen,” she said in her valedictory address at the millet conclave .

Calling for efforts to make millets as staple food, she said people didn’t generally eat chikkis (or snacks) much. “It has to be staple food in order to promote millets,” she said.

She called for efforts to incentivise the farmers, who are at the core of the millet ecosystem, to encourage them to do millet farming. “If we need to continue the momentum in millets, we need to focus on farmers who are growing it,” she said.

“We don’t recommend people to completely replace cereals with millets. But we can make efforts to source one-third of about 270 gms of carbohydrates that we consume,” she said.

The conclave, which was organised by businessline and NABARD, discussed the opportunities and challenges in millets. 

Include all millets

Stating that millets are very own indigenous crops, she felt that there was a need to include all of the millets rather than focussing on a few (minor) millets. While minor millets are grown in about 4 million hectares, sorghum and bajra occupy 7.5 million hectares.

“Instead of focussing only on the smaller area, the product development systems should consider bringing in more millets for developing more products.

Unlike other major breakthroughs such as Green Revolution, which were ‘brought into India from outside’, she pointed out that millets were very own crops. “We have generated information and developed our own brands,” she said.

Though the area under millets witnessed a decline over the last decades, the country could increase production because of the advancements in research.