‘Recognise millets as foods of future’

All India Millets Sisters Network seeks a better deal for millets and farmers cultivating them

January 30, 2020 11:24 pm | Updated 11:25 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The rich have recognised the nutritional value of millets while the poor are moving away from them.

The rich have recognised the nutritional value of millets while the poor are moving away from them.

The All India Millets Sisters (AIMS) Network which concluded its three-day conference in Sangareddy district released the ‘Millets Charter 2020’ and declared that millet rights are women’s rights. It also demanded a better deal for millets and farmers cultivating them.

The network partners from various States, who met in Pastapur village of Zaheerabad mandal in Sangareddy district from January 27 to 29, said that women farmers were the preservers of biodiversity which was the soul of millet farming. The agricultural finance institutions should move away from their tradition of preferring non food-crops such as cotton and heavily irrigation-dependent crops such as rice, sugar cane etc, and give priority to millets in view of their nutritional value. More so when a rethinking was happening on agricultural strategy due to deepening climate crises.

With every decade of climate crisis getting worse, familiar grains such as wheat and rice would continue to disappear from food basket of the country and there would be nothing to offer in the food system, the AIMS cautioned.

Millets with their extraordinary capacity to withstand the climate change pressure, might be the only grains that could be tapped for public food systems. “There is an immediate need to recognise ‘Millets as Foods of Future’ for India and all food planning must be based on millets,” they emphasised.

All-India campaign

The Millet Sisters vowed to take up an all-India campaign for implementation of the promise of putting millets in the Public Distribution Systems, a promise that was included in the Food Security Act of India passed by Parliament in 2013, said P.V.Sateesh, Director, Deccan Development Society and National Convenor, Millet Network of India.

The AIMS Network also referred to the Prime Minister’s endorsement of millets as treasure of nutrition and his call to start a millet revolution in India. But this could happen only when State policies such as Kisan Samman Yojana focused on millets. If the current cash support of ₹6,000 per year is applicable to all farmers, the millet-based bio-diverse farmers should get at least ₹10,000 in view of their special contribution to food and nutritional security, environmental security and their contribution to the alleviation of climate crisis.

At present millets were consumed by the rich as they recognised the nutritional value of millets while poor moved away from them. An effective campaign be launched to encourage all sections to consume millets as staple diet when India was placed at 185th position among the malnutritioned nations in the world, the Millet Sisters said.

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