New York: The International Year of Millets is an important step for recognising the valuable nutrition and health benefits of millets and the importance of these grains to food security and sustainability, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan has said.
The year 2023 has been designated as the ‘International Year of Millets‘ after a proposal for it was brought forward by India and endorsed by Members of the UN‘s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Governing Bodies, as well as by the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Speaking at the virtual launch ceremony of ‘Iconic Week on Millets Magic’ organised by Magic Millet, Muraleedharan said on Friday, “Through education, research, and promotion, we can make sure that millet receives the recognition they deserve and help to improve food security and sustainability around the world,”
Muraleedharan said millets are more resilient than other grains and cereals, making them a more reliable crop in the face of climate change and unpredictable weather. “This makes them an excellent choice for farmers looking to maximise their yields and incomes. Finally, millets are an affordable and accessible food source,” he said.
He noted that International Year of Millets is an important step in recognising the valuable nutrition and health benefits of millets, as well as the importance of these grains to food security and sustainability. “Programmes such as Magic Millets – 2023 are a force multiplier to the ongoing efforts of the UN, FAO and Government of India to bring millets back in our lives,” Muraleedharan said.
The government announced on January 1 it has lined up a series of millet-centric promotional activities across the country as the International Year of Millets (IYM) kicks in.
Millets were among the first crops to be domesticated in India with several evidence of its consumption during the Indus valley civilization. Being grown in more than 130 countries at present, millet is considered traditional food for more than half a billion people across Asia and Africa.
“We should aim to make International Year of Millets a people’s movement, a true jan-andolan. And that is where the role of community organisations and NGOs such as Jaipur Foot and Lok Samvad Sansthan becomes critical,” Muraleedharan said.
“Together, we can ensure that millets resurface as a staple of our food culture in India and across the world,” he said. Consul General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal said the Indian Consulate will be organising a calendar of events throughout 2023 to mark the international year and seeks strong participation of the diaspora to make this festival a success.
Jaiswal said promoting millets is a “win-win” for all, asserting that they are good for health, for the planet, environment, for achieving Sustainable Development Goals, for small and marginal farmers and for enhancing the food and nutrition security of people.
He noted that in the last few years, India has given the International Day of Non-Violence, International Day of Yoga and now the International Day of Millets to the global community through the United Nations. There is a deeper meaning in these celebrations and that it is the message of India to the world: the well-being of all and peace for all, Jaiswal said.
In India, millets are primarily a Kharif crop, requiring less water and agricultural inputs than other similar staples. Millets are important by virtue of their mammoth potential to generate livelihoods, increase farmers’ income and ensure food and nutritional security all over the world.
Millets are also an integral part of the G-20 meetings and delegates will be given a true millet experience through tasting, meeting farmers and interactive sessions with start-ups and FPOs. Jaipur Foot USA Chairperson Prem Bhandari, who initiated the virtual celebration, lauded Chief Coordinator for India’s G20 Presidency Harsh Vardhan Shringla for including one millet dish in all G20 meals.
Bhandari said Jaipur Foot, along with all organisations, will organise several events this year in association with the Consulate General of India in New York to promote and spread awareness on millets. He said that after giving the International Yoga Day to the world through the UN, India has now given a year to celebrate millets globally.
He applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the initiatives and said: “India will be Vishwa Guru and will show the path to the world.”
Kalyan Singh Kothari, social activist and Secretary General Magic Millet also addressed the virtual meeting. On December 6, the UN body Food and Agriculture Organization organised an opening ceremony for the IYM in Rome, Italy. The Indian government hosted a special ‘Millet Luncheon’ for Members of Parliament in the Parliament complex.
Recognising the enormous potential of Millets, which also aligns with several U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), India has prioritised millets. In April 2018, millets were rebranded as “Nutri Cereals”, followed by the year 2018 being declared as the National Year of Millets.
The UN’s declaration as IYM 2023 has been instrumental for India to be at the forefront in celebrating the millet year. Prime Minister Modi has also shared his vision to make IYM 2023 a “people’s movement” alongside positioning India as the “Global hub of millets”. The global millets market is projected to register a CAGR of 4.5 per cent between 2021-2026.