NEW DELHI: The humble bajra and its brethern are finally having a field day. They have been proclaimed as the heroes of cereals this year with the United Nations General Assembly having accepted India’s request to dedicate 2023 as International Year of the Millet (IYM).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, on several occasions, shared his vision to make IYM 2023 a ‘People’s Movement’ alongside positioning India as the ‘Global Hub for Millets’.
Millets were among the first crops to be domesticated in India with several evidence of its consumption during the Indus valley civilisation. Being grown in more than 130 countries at present, millets are considered traditional food for more than half a billion people across Asia and Africa.
In India, the millets are primarily a kharif crop, requiring less water and agricultural inputs than other similar staples. Millets are important by the virtue of their mammoth potential to generate livelihoods, increase farmers’ income and ensure food & nutritional security all over the world. Recognising the enormous potential of millets, which also aligns with several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Government of India has prioritised millets.
National Year of Millets
In April 2018, millets were rebranded as “nutri cereals”, followed by the year 2018 being declared as the National Year of Millets, aiming at larger promotion and demand generation. The global millets market is projected to register a compound annual growth rate of 4.5 per cent between 2021-2026.
On December 6, 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations organised an opening ceremony for the International Year of Millets – 2023, at Rome. The event was attended by a delegation of senior Government officials from India. Next in the series, prior to the yearlong celebrations of IYM 2023, the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare hosted a special ‘Millet Luncheon’ for the Members of the Parliament at the Parliament house.
The Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has taken a proactive multi-stakeholder engagement approach (engaging all the central government ministries, states/UTs, farmers, start-ups, exporters, retail businesses, hotels, Indian embassies etc.) to achieve the aim of IYM 2023 and taking Indian millets globally. Ministries, states and Indian embassies have been allocated focused months in 2023 to carry out various activities for promotion of IYM and increase awareness about benefits of millets for the consumer, cultivator and climate.