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  • 31 January, 2023

  • 7 Min Read

2023: International Year of Millets

2023: International Year of Millets

  • Following a proposal by India, which aspires to establish itself as a major producer of millets, the United Nations has designated 2023 as the International Year of the Millet.
  • The 2023 International Year of Millets will provide a chance to increase public awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of millet as well as their potential for changing climatic circumstances.
  • Additionally, millets' potential to open up new sustainable market options for both producers and consumers will be highlighted, along with the sustainable production of millets itself.

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) views:

  • Resilient grains like millets offer an economical and nourishing alternative as the global agrifood systems struggle to feed a growing global population, and initiatives to promote their cultivation need to be scaled up.
  • According to FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, "Millets can play a significant role and contribute to our collaborative efforts to empower smallholder farmers, achieve sustainable development, end hunger, adapt to climate change, promote biodiversity, and revolutionise agrifood systems."

The International Year of Millets offers a special chance to:

  • Increase public knowledge of and focus on the nutritional and health advantages of millet eating
  • The ability of millets to be grown in challenging and varying climatic circumstances
  • Establishing sustainable and creative market options for millets so that farmers and consumers worldwide can benefit.
  • In order to encourage governments and policymakers to give priority to the production and trading of these cereals, IYM 2023 aims to pique the interest in millets among a variety of stakeholders, including farmers, the youth, and civil society.

About millets:

  • Small-seeded grasses, including sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, and Kodo millet, are commonly referred to as dryland cereals or Nutri-cereals.
  • They are tougher and drought-resistant crops.
  • Millets require less water, fertiliser, and insecticides to flourish in poor soil conditions.
  • They are the ideal choice for "climate-smart cereals" due to their ability to resist greater temperatures.
  • The word "millet" describes a number of small-seeded annual grasses that are typically farmed as grain crops on marginal soils in arid regions of temperate, subtropical, and tropical climates.
  • The earliest evidence of these grains dates to the Indus period, making them one of the earliest plants domesticated for nourishment.
  • It is grown in 131 countries, and 60 crore people in Asia and Africa consume it as part of their traditional diet.
  • India is the largest millet producer in the world.
  • It accounts for 20% of global production and 80% of production in Asia.
  • India is the world's largest producer of millets and the fifth-largest exporter of them, producing all nine of the regularly used millets.
  • The principal states that produce millets include Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Millets made up around 40% of all cultivated grains before to the Green Revolution, but that percentage has since decreased to about 20%.
  • During the forecast period of 2021–2026, the worldwide millets market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 4.5%.

Significance of millets:

Nutritional diet:

  • Although millets are a type of grain like rice or wheat, they were formerly known as coarse cereals.
  • While millets have more protein, dietary fibre, iron, and calcium than rice or wheat, they are all excellent sources of carbohydrates.
  • According to a 2018 official statement, research has proven that millets are a potent source of nutrients, gluten free and are an effective defense against diabetes and obesity.
  • Millets have a low glycemic index, which means that compared to foods further up on the index, they have less of an effect on blood glucose levels.
  • The government has changed the name of the product from coarse grains to Nutri cereals in order to make it easier for consumers to grasp its advantages.


  • Millets are a superior crop since they are resistant to climate change and photo-insensitive (they don't require a specific photoperiod to flower). Millets require little to no outside support to flourish in poor soils.

Prevent Anemia:

  • Particularly for children and women, millets can provide dietary stability and act as a barrier against nutritional inadequacies. Due to its high iron content, it can help prevent anemia, which affects Indian women and newborns quite frequently.

Water efficient:

  • Millets require less water to grow and can do so in desert conditions without irrigation or even in times of very little rainfall.
  • Millets grow in half the time of wheat, need 40% less energy to process, and use 70% less water than rice. They are resilient plants that can endure extremely hot temperatures.

Challenges in producing millets:

  • Sale pricing was low but is already falling: In the past, rice and wheat were aspirational staples for the impoverished in both urban and rural settings.
  • But because of the Green Revolution and the National Food Security Act of 2013, two-thirds of India's population now receives up to 5 kg of wheat or rice per person per month at prices of Rs 2 and Rs 3/kg, respectively.

Measures adopted by the government to promote millets:

  • Project for the Intensified Promotion of Millet for Nutritional Security (INSIMP)
  • The government increased millets' minimum support price (MSP), giving farmers a considerable financial incentive.
  • In order to ensure a steady market for the produce, the government has now included millets in the public distribution system.
  • Assistance with Inputs: The government has begun providing seed kits and other inputs to farmers, establishing value chains through Farmer Producer Organizations, and promoting the commercial viability of millets.
  • In the recent budget 2023-2024, Government declared the Indian Institute of Millets Research, Hyderabad as an Institute of Excellence, which is engaged in the research and promotion of millets.


  • Every schoolchild and Anganwadis beneficiary may receive one daily hot meal made with locally sourced bajra, jowar, ragi, Kodo, or kutki along with a 150-ml glass of milk and one egg under government programs.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman and Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 programs can be made more millets-focused.
  • A specific millet mission already exists in Odisha, and in 2021–2022 it undertook the procurement of 32,302 tonnes worth of millet, primarily ragi, for Rs 109.08 crore.
  • In the same way other states can undertake such actions like Maharashtra for jowar, Karnataka might for ragi, Madhya Pradesh might for Kodo/kutki, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana for bajra.
  • Combined funding: What the Food Corporation of India did for rice and wheat, same can be replicated for millets, with a combination of central funding and decentralized procurement notably for the eradication of hidden hunger among school-age children.

Way Forward

  • Millets are no longer as widely consumed as they once were, and commercial crops like maize, oilseeds, and pulses have taken their place.
  • Commercial crops are profitable, and numerous policies, including subsidised inputs, motivated procurement, and inclusion in the Public Distribution System, favour their production.
  • As a result, eating habits have changed, favouring the use of quality cereals that are high in calories.
  • But now is the right time to acknowledge millet's significance and spur domestic and international demand.

Source: Livemint

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