Millets in India - History, Types & Advantages

Millets in India - History, Types & Advantages

Nov 30, 2023UDM Digital

The Significance of the International Year of Millets

In a pivotal move towards sustainable agriculture, 2023 has been designated as the International Year of Millets in India. This comes after the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) approved India's proposal, signaling a renewed focus on these ancient grains. Despite a decline in cultivation area over the past six decades, millets are experiencing a resurgence in productivity, propelled by high-yield varieties and advanced technologies. 

Boosting Production and Consumption for a Healthier India

The Government of India, recognizing the nutritional potential of millets, declared 2018 as the National Year of Millets. The aim was to enhance the production of these nutrient-rich crops and promote associated agro-industries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the need for a Millets revolution to ensure a nutritious diet and good health, underscoring the critical role millets play in combating hunger and mitigating the effects of climate change. 

Understanding the Types and Regions of Millet Cultivation

Millets, known for their resilience, thrive in dry or rain-fed areas with marginal soil fertility. Cultivated in regions such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and more, millets have a short growing season, allowing them to go from seeds to harvest-ready crops in just about 65 days. Their adaptability to various climates and soils makes them a crucial component of India's agricultural landscape. 

Millets Role in Addressing Malnutrition and Ensuring Food Security

Millets play a pivotal role in addressing malnutrition, given the decline in their cultivation leading to nutrient deficiencies. With a low glycemic index, gluten-free nature, and rich mineral content, millets offer a sustainable solution to combat diabetes and nutritional deficiencies. Their adaptability to various regions and resistance to changes in moisture, temperature, and soil types make millets vital for ensuring food and nutrition security. 

Government Schemes and Measures to Revitalize Millet Production

Acknowledging the underutilization of millets as food, the government has initiated measures to expand the food basket and include millets in the Public Distribution System. Schemes such as the Integrated Cereals Development Programmes, Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion, and Rainfed Area Development Programme aim to create an enabling environment for millet farmers. 

Multi-faceted Advantages of Millet Production in India 

Termed as 'miracle grains' or 'crops of the future,' millets offer numerous advantages. They are drought-resistant, dual-purpose crops cultivated for both food and fodder, contributing to food security and economic efficiency. Millets also play a role in mitigating climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon pressure. With superior nutritional value compared to wheat and rice, millets help in preventing various health issues, making them a cornerstone for a healthier and more sustainable future. 

In conclusion, the International Year of Millets in 2023 signifies a renewed focus on these ancient grains, presenting a unique opportunity for India to address nutritional challenges, ensure food security, and contribute to sustainable agriculture.

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