New Delhi: India is at the forefront of popularising millets and it is evident with the mention of millets in the Union Budget 2023-24. While presenting her fifth budget, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance briefly talked about millets and shared her government’s plan with regard to reaping the nutritional and health benefits of this humble crop. Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words, FM said, “India is at the forefront of popularizing Millets, whose consumption furthers nutrition, food security and welfare of farmers.”
Talking about creating a global hub for millets or ‘Shree Anna’, Ms Sitharaman said,
We are the largest producer and second largest exporter of ‘Shree Anna’ in the world. We grow several types of ‘Shree Anna’ such as jowar, ragi, bajra, kuttu, ramdana, kangni, kutki, kodo, cheena, and sama. These have a number of health benefits, and have been an integral part of our food for centuries. I acknowledge with pride the huge service done by small farmers in contributing to the health of fellow citizens by growing these ‘Shree Anna’.
Strengthening its resolve in promoting the production and consumption of nutri-cereals, the government has decided to support the Indian Institute of Millets Research. FM said,
Now to make India a global hub for ‘Shree Anna’, the Indian Institute of Millets Research, Hyderabad will be supported as the Centre of Excellence for sharing best practices, research and technologies at the international level.
Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) is a premier agricultural research institute engaged in basic and strategic research on sorghum and other millets under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). IIMR coordinates and facilitates Millets research at national level through All India Coordinated Research Projects on Millets, Pearl Millet and Small Millets and provides linkages with various national and international agencies.
The vision of IIMR is: “Transforming millets cultivation from subsistence farming to globally competitive through cost-effective and environment friendly production, processing and value addition technologies and supply chain networks”.
Addressing the citizens, PM Modi talked about the the ‘Amrit Kaal Budget’ and said,
The world is celebrating the International Year of Millets. In India, there are a variety of millets and names. Today, when millets are reaching every home and gaining popularity across the world, small farmers in India will get the ultimate benefit. And that’s why there is a need to take it forward in a new way. A new identity is required and that’s why this superfood has been given the new identity as ‘Shree Anna’.
PM Modi believes that the importance given to the ‘Shree Anna’ will provide financial stability to small farmers involved in the production of millets and a healthy life to the citizens.
Sharing his thoughts on the government’s decision, Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director of ActionAid Association said,
The initiative to promote millets in the food security programme is a welcome first step which could have gained huge momentum through the additional valuation of such crops in the public procurement system.
Talking about what more is required to bring back millet on our food plate, Basanta Kar, known as Nutrition Man said,
The share of millet as coarse grain in total cereal produced must reach 50 per cent by 2030. Similarly, the share of the bio-fortified millet to the total share in publicly funded food programs like ICDS supplementary nutrition, targeted public distribution system and mid-day meal program must reach to a minimum of fifty per cent by 2030. A country with Atmanirbhar millets (millet self-reliance) is bound to achieve the goals of Atmanirbhar Poshan (nutritional self-reliance).
Pradnya Paithankar, Head of Resilience, Climate Change, DRR at the World Food Programme lauded the country’s decision of making India a global hub and called it a “concrete step in establishing its leadership at country and global level.” Ms Paithankar said,
Setting-up of the agriculture accelerator fund will help strengthening the millet value chain and increase the interest of agri-tech and start-ups to work towards value add and branding for enhanced consumption. Recognising the role of IIMR as a center of excellence for sharing best practices, research and technological intervention is a step in right direction.
The announcement comes at a time when the world is marking 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM). India is marking the celebration through various programmes like hosting a millet lunch for Vice President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
In the 92nd episode of Mann Ki Baat, which aired on August 28, 2022, PM Modi enlightened his listeners about the many benefits of millets. He said,
Millets are beneficial for farmers and especially small farmers. In fact, the crop gets ready in a very short time, and does not require much water either.
Sharing the health benefits of millets, in order to promote its consumption, PM Modi said,
Millets contain plenty of protein, fiber, and minerals. Many people even call it a superfood. Millets have many benefits, not just one. Along with reducing obesity, they also reduce the risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart-related diseases. Along with that, they are also helpful in preventing stomach and liver ailments. We referred to malnutrition, just a while ago. Millets are also very beneficial in fighting malnutrition, since they are packed with energy as well as protein.
PM Modi urged farmers to adopt Millet and be rewarded in the form of health benefits. He lauded the start-ups working with millets and providing a basket of choices like Millet Cookies, Millet Pancakes and Dosa, and Millet Energy Bars, among others.
Last year as well, while presenting the union budget for 2022-23, the finance minister talked about millets and said,
2023 has been announced as the International Year of Millets. Support will be provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption, and for branding millet products nationally and internationally.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.