Over 80 start-ups dedicated to millets have sprung over the past 18 months, a millet conclave “Shree Anna” organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) was informed on Wednesday. 

Addressing the conclave, Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary (Crops, Oil Seeds), Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, said over the past one and a half years, the significant growth of start-ups in the millet sector has captured the attention of the highest levels of Government. 

Emphasising the importance of making the millet movement a mass one in India and globally, she expressed delight over young individuals engaging themselves in promoting millets.  

‘Need for handholding’

Sudhanshu, Secretary at Agricultural and Processed Food Product Export Development Authority (APEDA), said these start-ups dedicated to millets are responsible for developing well-packaged products. He acknowledged the innovation from large retail organisations.   

Stressing the need for continuous efforts to provide guidance and support to small entrepreneurs and start-ups in the millet area, he called for recognising the need for handholding rather than focusing solely on large export houses. 

The APEDA secretary said in addition, it was important for sustaining the momentum after the launch of the campaign and expressing the commitment to take it to the next level.   

 TR Kesavan, Chairman of the FICCI National Agriculture Committee and Group President, TAFE, called for integrating millets in the regular diet. He emphasised its multi-faceted benefits, including nutritional value, climatic resilience, and income generation for farmers. He also highlighted the challenges in cultivation, the need for mechanisation, and the importance of making millets profitable.  

Traditional uses

Celebrity Chef Ranveer Brar, in his special address, endorsed the ‘Year of the Millet 2023’ campaign, urging a return to the traditional use of millets in Indian cuisine.

Dwelling on the nation’s culinary history, he said millets were once extensively used across all cultures, States, and cuisines in India before being overshadowed by rice and wheat. He dismissed the notion that cooking with millets is difficult. 

“I have always, as a chef, said as a country, we have all grown up eating millet, and then somewhere down the line, we moved on to rice and wheat. I think we need to unlearn,” Brar said.

In his address, Khader Vali -the “Millet Man of India”, said  millets can eliminate various diseases. He said millets go beyond nutrition, offering a unique solution to global health challenges. 

Highlighting the sustainable cultivation of millets that requires minimal water, he lamented the disappearance of many traditional varieties.  

PwC knowledge report

Ravinder Balain, President South Asia at Corteva Agriscience, said his company was built on the belief in partnering with farmers. The firm has been working to support resilience by advancing economic, environmental and social sustainability through proven science.  

On the occasion, FICCI PwC Knowledge Report: Propelling India’s millet sector towards a sustainable future, was released. 

Shashi Kant Singh, Partner at PwC India, stressed the need for creating domestic and international demand for millets.