The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh on August 16, 2018, wrote to Jose Graziano da Silva, the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) to declare the upcoming year as the ‘International Year of Millets’. Singh stressed on the need to draw wider global attention and action to promote cultivation of millets.
The adoption of this proposal by the FAO with the support of its Member Nations will enable it to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for a declaration of an upcoming year as International Year of Millets. The Union Government recently increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of millets by more than 50 percent of the cost of production which is an important component of efforts to achieve the national commitment of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
Millets and their benefits:-
1. Millets are highly nutritious and useful in various lifestyle diseases, enhance resilience and risk management in face of climate change especially for small and marginal farmers.
2. Millet is a common term that categorizes small-seeded grasses termed as ‘Nutri-Cereals’ or ‘Dryland-Cereals’. These nutrient-cereals are sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, Kodo millet and other millets.
3. Millet is an important staple cereal crop for millions of dryland farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They offer nutrition, income, and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times.
4. They can be used in various forms such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels, and brewing.
5. They are offering nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.