Making millets, crops of the long run, shine

On India’s request, the UN FAO has marked the 12 months 2023 because the Worldwide 12 months of Millets (‘IYM 2023’). This declaration is well timed and welcome. Millets are a various group of small-seeded crop, and embrace varieties such asKodoo, barnyard, and foxtail. They’re among the many oldest crops to be grown in India.

Howeve, with its concerted agenda to spice up wheat and rice, the Inexperienced Revolution was primarily answerable for relegating these humble crops to a footnote in Indian delicacies. It’s lamentable that millets got here to be derided as “coarse” and “primitive” grains, to point their inferior standing vis-a-vis refined counterparts.

Unlucky development

A mix of biased agricultural coverage and altering client preferences meant that millets receded in significance. This was an unlucky development contemplating the arsenal of environmental, agricultural and well being advantages at their disposal. Millets are hardy crops resilient to local weather change. They’ve potential to equip small farmers and promote biodiversity in agri-food techniques.

The nutrient-dense nature of those grains, in addition to their affordability, make them match for addressing widespread starvation, malnutrition, and micronutrient deficiency. It’s thus not shocking that millets are sometimes termed as “crops of the long run”. Millets symbolize a sustainable market alternative in India and supply trigger for optimism within the world meals disaster. Within the pursuits of guaranteeing the meals safety of an ever-expanding inhabitants and sustainable growth, it’s important to nurture the manufacturing and consumption of millets in India by way of applicable coverage.

To attain the objectives of the Worldwide 12 months of Millets 2023, Indian policymakers should allow millets to shine. Selling millets by way of coverage present schemes, such because the Built-in Cereals Growth Programme in Coarse Cereals, deal with the availability of seeds and coaching of farmers.

Introducing it in PDS

Efforts are underway to introduce millets below the Public Distribution System to enhance dietary safety. Additional, NITI Aayog has been advocating for the inclusion of millets below the Built-in Little one Growth Providers Scheme and the mid-day meal scheme. Whereas it’s encouraging to notice the abovementioned efforts, there’s a lengthy approach to go.

Contemplating the multi-dimensional nature of the meals safety conundrum, it’s helpful to undertake a holistic strategy to deal with it. Regardless of the existence of assorted authorities schemes, the adoption of millets has been sluggish. On this regard, Sustainable Growth Aim 17 on partnerships offers helpful steerage. It encourages “multi-stakeholder partnerships” to implement the 2030 Agenda. It additionally urges states to “encourage and promote efficient public, public-private and civil society partnerships” that “mobilise and share information, experience, expertise and monetary assets” to help the conclusion of SDGs in growing nations.

That is based mostly on the understanding that creating lasting change in native meals techniques necessitates the involvement of the non-public sector. To speed up the mainstreaming of millets, the federal government should undertake a novel framework grounded in a multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral ethos. Below this revised framework, which can be termed “Public-Personal Partnerships for Diet’ or ‘PPP4N”, by getting into strategic PPPs with non-public sector gamers, corresponding to SMEs, MSMEs, and different organisations.

Such partnerships have important benefits within the context of diet. They might allow the state to faucet into the assets, information, and experience of the non-public sector. Illustratively, partnerships may very well be targeted on areas like value-chain growth, expertise switch, and product reformulation.

Renewed focus to hurry up output

A renewed deal with collaboration with the non-public sector might speed up millet manufacturing, consumption, and total cultural mainstreaming. Furthermore, it could be amiss to neglect the highly effective function performed by the meals and beverage (‘F&B’) business in shaping meals techniques. A devoted level of focus of the PPP4N framework, due to this fact,needs to be tactical engagement with F&B gamers. Such entities can significantly increase the uptake of millets by guaranteeing larger availability of millet-based merchandise available in the market.

Furthermore, they will direct their efforts in the direction of bettering dietary outcomes by way of product reformulation, higher labelling requirements, and rising consciousness amongst customers. A holistic strategy, as outlined above, aligns with Sustainable Growth Aim 17.

To make this a actuality, the state should overcome widespread obstacles that are available the way in which of nutrition-related PPPs, corresponding to belief deficit between the general public sector and the non-public sector, and battle of pursuits. Strategic alignment, instituting strong accountability mechanisms, and guaranteeing that the partnership is engineered transparently with a objective to enhance public well being diet, could be key to the success of such an initiative.


Millets are the crops of the long run as a consequence of their distinctive environmental, agricultural and well being benefits. The IYM 2023 is an apt alternative to mainstream the common-or-garden crops after many years of disregard. Harnessing a novel PPP4N framework might show beneficial in realising the total potential of millets, whereas concurrently reaching optimistic diet and public well being outcomes. India may very well be on its approach to changing into the millet capital of the world.

The creator is Analysis Fellow, Coverage Analysis Group at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. She has written this with inputs from Siddharth Nair and Nawneet Vibhaw, Companions at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co

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