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National Conference on Millets

 

Millets in India: Relevance

  • GS 3: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country.

 

Millets in India: Context

  • Recently, Ministry of Food Processing Industries has inaugurated the National Conference on Millets on the theme ‘The Future Super Food for India’ to discuss opportunities and challenges in ensuring food and nutritional security.

 

National Conference on Millets: Key points

  • The conference is being organised by industry body ASSOCHAM with the support of Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
  • The production of coarse cereals in the country has increased to 17.96 million tonnes in 2020-21 from 14.52 million tonnes in 2015-16 and the production of bajra (pearl millet) has also increased to 10.86 million tonnes in the same period.

 

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Benefits of Millets

  • Due to its ability to be easily preserved for a long time even under ordinary conditions, coarse grain is considered a storehouse in times of famine.
  • Millets have been among the oldest eatables in the country. It is a crop grown from small seeds which can be grown well in dry areas or even on lands with deficient and low fertility thus is known as the superfood of India.
  • Due to their short growing season, millets can develop from seeds to ready-to-harvest crops in just about 65 days and this characteristic of the millets is of vital importance in thickly populated regions of the world. If stored properly, millets can keep well for two years or beyond.
  • There is a need to mainstream millets to improve India’s nutrition outcomes.
  • The major millets producing states in India include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

 

Nutritional benefit of millets

  • They are rich in minerals and B-complex vitamins, as well as proteins and antioxidants, making them an ideal choice for improving the nutritional outcome of children.
  • However, despite such benefits, consumption of millets remains low due to lack of awareness and availability.
  • As per National Family Health Survey-IV, 38 per cent of children under five years of age are stunted and 59 per cent of children are suffering from anaemia.
  • Among one of the series of initiatives, to reduce malnutrition and anaemia, the Government is laying emphasis on consumption of millets.
  • NITI Aayog has also been advocating the need to introduce millets in the mid-day meal programme, moving away from rice and wheat.
  • Moreover, in 2019, NITI Aayog had released a report showing the benefits of millets based on a study among adolescents in four Karnataka schools.

 

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Government steps to increase millets production

  • Government of India has already revised the guidelines to facilitate the movement of the surplus production of millets to other states.
  • The provision of inter-state transportation of surplus millets through the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is incorporated to cater for advance demands placed by consuming states before the start of procurement.
  • India is now the 5th largest exporter of millets globally.
  • 2023 will be the international year of millets that will create value generation and promotion of sustainable products in food choices.

 

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