As suggested by India to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2023 the International Year of Millets.
Millets are a type of coarse grain that is high in protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), korra (foxtail millet), arke (kodo millet), sama (small millet), bajra (pearl millet), chena/barr (proso millet), chena/barr (proso millet), chena/barr (proso millet), chena/barr (pros (barnyard millet). Millets were one of the first meals mankind discovered. With urbanisation and industrialisation, however, they were replaced by wheat and rice. With a market share of 41%, India is the largest worldwide producer, and the global millet industry is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5 percent over the next decade.
What are the benefits of using Millets?
The government established a goal of mixing 20% ethanol with gasoline by 2025, which was announced in June 2021. Sugar molasses and maize are used to make most bio-ethanol in India. However, a study of farmers in Madhya Pradesh found that bio-ethanol can be made from sorghum (jowar) and pearl millet (bajra), and that this fuel can cut carbon emissions in half. Millets, according to estimates, can produce higher returns than maize while using 40% less energy to process. Millets are also a more cost-effective feedstock for bio-ethanol production than maize. Adaptability to Climate Change
In India, land degradation has long been a serious issue, resulting in enormous economic losses year after year. Drought-tolerant crops with little reliance on chemical inputs, such as millets, would place considerably less strain on ecosystems. Intercropping millets with other crops is especially useful because millet plants’ fibrous roots improve soil quality, control water run-off, and promote soil conservation in erosion-prone locations, restoring natural ecosystems.
They can endure severe temperatures, floods, and droughts since they are robust crops. They also assist to reduce the impacts of climate change by having a low carbon footprint of 3,218 kg CO2 equivalent per hectare, compared to 3,968 kg and 3,401 kg, respectively, for wheat and rice on the same scale.
Millets have the potential to play a part in India’s environmental policy initiatives. Millets’ impact on energy optimization, climate resilience, and ecosystem restoration has been shown by recent study findings. Millet cultivation has also resulted in women’s empowerment. 7.2 million women become ‘agri-preneurs’ as a result of the Odisha Millet Mission, for example.
Millet cultivation has a long history in Indian culture. In Telangana, organisations such as the Deccan Development Society have created women’s collectives to promote millets using a culture-centric approach. This type of crop sensitization has also spread to urban areas. Restaurants in Bengaluru used millets in meals like risotto and pizza as part of the #LetsMilletCampaign in 2018.
What are the drawbacks of Millets’ growth?
The demand for millets has decreased as earnings and urbanisation have increased. Government policies that are insufficient. Farmers face unfair pricing as a result of middlemen. Input subsidies and pricing incentives are lacking. Farmers have switched from millets to rice and wheat as a result of the PDS’s procurement and subsidised delivery of these commodities. Millets are used for a variety of reasons besides eating.
What are the Next Steps?
Intercropping with millets (two or more crops planted side by side), as well as crop insurance and storage facility support, can help to increase income and food security.
Millets, which have a lot of promise, may be an important gear in the country’s sustainable development wheel provided policies that encourage their production, motivate farmers, and enhance market links are in place.