The International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), on World Heart Day, has come up with a new variety of healthier and safer nutritious snacks made of sorghum and millet for the fast food consumers. These cereals have higher nutrition value than rice and wheat besides being rich in dietary fibre, a quality that makes them diabetic friendly.

These snacks were developed by the scientists at the NutriPlus Knowledge Programme (NPK), which is a part of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP).

“In addition to the health snacks, we are looking at several other exciting possibilities to raise the value of these nutritious grains to have an impact on small-holder farmers who grow these crops,” said Dr. Saikat Datta Mazumdar, leading scientist at the NPK Programme.

According to ICRISAT, in addition to introducing better, healthier and safer fast food for consumers, sorghum and millet snacks will create new markets for these crops. This market opportunity will link poor farmers to the Indian agro-food industry and increase their incomes.

ICRISAT’s food technology researchers are also looking into partnerships with the private sector and development organisations to find solutions for post-harvest issues and explore new markets for dryland crops such as sorghum and millet.

“We would like to research the possibility of sorghum or millet-based enriched biscuits for school feeding programmes in Asia and Africa. We could also develop and promote simple processing technologies and innovations for mothers to prepare nutritious baby foods in families where malnourishment is an issue,’ said Dr. Mazumdar.

ICRISAT’s Director General Dr. William Dar highlighted the value of this food technology research for reducing rural poverty. “By tapping into the health promoting properties of dryland crops like sorghum and millet we can help address an urgent public health issue at the same time creating new markets for these subsistence crops, which are produced mostly by smallholder farmers,” said Dr. Dar.