Why are we celebrating 2023 as the International Year of Millets?

The “International Year of Millets” has been declared by the United Nations for 2023. The Indian government has made this suggestion. The prime goal of this initiative is to make the general public more aware of the health advantages of millet. Additionally, there are objectives to raise awareness of Indian millets and collaborate with other countries to host a successful celebration of the International Year of Millets in 2023.

About Millets

Our diet has included millet consistently, for many years. Because of their excellent nutritional content and other advantages, millets are gaining attention these days. Due to their high protein and vitamin content, millet is also well known to foster kid growth. In addition, these have a relatively low glycemic index, which lowers the risk of childhood obesity.

The Government of India recognized 2018 as the National Year of Millets. That same year, the coarse cereals known as millets were designated as ‘Nutri-cereals’ because of their high nutritious value. Since millets possess a high density of nutrients, including minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibre, their significance was felt both during and after the COVID-19 epidemic.

What is the Importance of Millets?

Millets have been a traditional food source for millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for more than 7,000 years. They are currently grown throughout the world. Millets provide several health advantages and are excellent for the environment due to their minimal water and manure requirements.

Though their productivity is declining in many countries, their promise to prevent climate change and to provide food security is yet to be wholly realized. It is a fact that even though millets grow in severe, dry conditions and on relatively poor soils with substantially fewer inputs than other cereals.

The timely need to educate consumers, producers, actors throughout the value chain, and decision-makers on millets’ variety, nutritional worth, and ecological benefits can strengthen connections between the food and agriculture industries.

Therefore, the Government of India requested that the United Nations should declare 2023 the International Year of Millets to raise awareness of millets and enhance their production and consumption.

Relevance of the International Year of Millets

1- Superior Nutrition:

  • Due to their higher protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals like iron, millets are more affordable and nutritionally superior than wheat and rice.
  • Millets contain high levels of calcium and magnesium. They are recognized for their most excellent calcium content of all dietary grains.
  • Millets can offer nutritional security, especially when consumed by children and women. They also serve as a barrier against dietary deficiencies. Because of the high iron content, they can help combat India’s high anaemia rate in newborns and women of childbearing age.

2- Low glycemic index and gluten-free:

Since millets are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index, they can assist in addressing a variety of lifestyle and health issues, such as obesity and diabetes.

3- Incredible Crop at Growing:

  • Millets are resistant to photosensitivity and climate change. For flowering, they don’t need a specific photoperiod. With little to no external inputs, millets can flourish in poor soils.
  • Millets require less water and can grow in dry climates, without irrigation, and even during periods of deficient rainfall.
  • The environmental impact of millets is minimal. Rice plants require a minimum of three times as much water as millets do to grow.

What is the purpose of the International Year of Millet?

The purpose of the International Year of Millet is stated below-

According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the year 2023 aims to,

  • Increase public knowledge of millet’s role in nutrition and food security.
  • Motivate participants to enhance millet quality and sustainable production.
  • Bring attention to the need for increased investment in R&D and extension services to fulfil the other two goals.

Therefore, the International Year of Millets offers a unique chance to boost worldwide production. It also guarantees efficient processing and consumption. India’s agricultural ministry has increased research and development services that support funding to the abovementioned objectives.

Efforts to Celebrate the International Year of Millets:

To raise awareness among Indians about the International Year of Millets, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has started several programs. To celebrate the International Year of Millets, the Ministry of Agriculture is the nodal agency, and the Indian Institute of Millets Research has been designated the nodal institution. Through several efforts, India is taking the initiative to popularize the concept internationally.

The Bottom Line

The year 2023 has been proclaimed the International Year of Millets by the UN General Assembly. Given that India is the world’s top producer of millet, it was an occasion to be proud of Indian farmers.

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