For Prelims:  Millets and its Significance, UNEP FAO, the Need for Food Security, the largest producer of millets

For Mains: The Importance of the International Year of Millets in 2023

Why in the news?

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare has planned a number of pre-launch activities and initiatives to raise awareness and encourage participation in the country about the illustrious but long-forgotten golden grains in advance of the International Year of Millets in 2023.

  • There were several events introduced, such as "India's Wealth, Millets for Health," "Mighty Millets Quiz," "Logo and slogan contest," etc.

What do we need to know about IYM?

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 to be the International Year of Millets, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) granted India's request to observe the year in 2023.

  • India initiated a UN resolution, which was supported by more than 70 other nations.
  • Objectives:
    • understanding of millet's role in nutrition and food security.
    • Encourage the improvement of millets' quality and sustainable production.
    • To accomplish the other two goals, concentrate on increased investment in extension services and research and development.

The Aim Of The International Year Of Millets

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has set the following goals for the year 2023.

  • Educate people about millet's importance to nutrition and food security.
  • Promote sustainable production of millets and the enhancement of their quality.
  • Focus on increased R&D and extension service spending to reach the final two objectives.

Indian preparations for the International Year of Millets

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, India has taken the following steps to get ready for the International Year of Millets (IYoM), which will take place in 2023.

  • Establishing a core committee
  • Consultations on how to increase millets supply and production in the country have been held with the assistance of various States, Processors, Chefs/Nutritionists, and Farmers.
  • The Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR) has been designated as a Nodal Institute for observing all policies, actions, and communications.
  • Six task forces have been formed to carry out the plan locally.

What is Millet?

  • The term "millet" refers to a variety of small-seeded annual grasses that are grown as grain crops, primarily on marginal lands in dry areas of temperate, subtropical, and tropical climates.
  • There are several popular millets that can be found in India, including Ragi (Finger millet), Jowar (Sorghum), Sama (Little millet), Bajra (Pearl millet), and Variga (Proso millet).
    • These grains were one of the first plants domesticated for food, with the earliest evidence dating to the Indus civilization.
  • Approximately 60 crore people in Asia and Africa eat it regularly, and it is grown in 131 different countries.
  • The majority of the millet consumed worldwide is produced in India.
    • It produces 80% of the food consumed in Asia and 20% of the world's total output.

Global Distribution:

  • India, Nigeria, and China, the top three producers, produce more than 55% of the world's millet.
  • India has long been a major millet producer in the world. But millet production has recently increased significantly in Africa.

Significance:

  • Nutritionally Superior:
      • Because millets contain a higher amount of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like iron, than wheat and rice, they are less expensive and more nutritious overall.
      • Magnesium and calcium are also abundant in millets. The highest calcium content among all the food grains, for instance, is found in ragi.
      • In particular for children and women, millets can offer nutritional security and serve as a barrier against nutritional deficiencies. Due to its high iron content, it can help India's pregnant women and young children combat the country's high anemia prevalence.
  • Gluten-free a low glycemic index:
      • Millets are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index, which is a measure of how foods' carbohydrate contents affect blood sugar levels and can be used to help manage lifestyle issues and health issues like obesity and diabetes.
  • Super Crop at Growing:
    • Millets are climate change resistant and photo-insensitive (they don't need a certain photoperiod to flower). Millets can grow on deficient soils with little to no outside assistance.
    • Millets require less water than other crops and can thrive in arid climates, without irrigation, and even during periods of very low rainfall.
    • Rice plants require at least three times more water to grow than millets do, so millets have a lower carbon and water footprint.
  • Initiatives Taken by the Government:
    • "INSIMP" stands for the Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion.
    • Increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP): Farmers received significant price incentives as a result of the government raising the minimum support price for millets.
      • Millets have also been incorporated into the public distribution system by the government in order to guarantee a consistent market for the produce.
    • Input Support: In addition to establishing value chains through Farmer Producer Organizations and promoting the marketability of millets, the government has started giving farmers access to seed kits and other inputs.