Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Global Millets Conference here on Saturday, and said that coarse grains, locally named Shree Anna, can be a solution for the problem of food and nutritional security faced by the world.
A Ministerial round table on millets was also held here with the participation of Ministers and officials from 10 countries, including India. The two-day conference will have sessions on promotion and awareness of millets among producers, consumers and other stakeholders.
Mr. Modi said brainstorming sessions would be held on topics such as the farming of millets, millet economy, health benefits and farmers’ income among others with the active participation of local self-governments, Agriculture Department offices, schools, colleges and agricultural universities along with the Indian embassies and several foreign countries. The Prime Minister said millets are not limited to just food or farming.
“Shree Anna is a door to prosperity for the small farmers of the country, Shree Anna is the cornerstone of nutrition for crores of countrymen, Shree Anna is a felicitation of Adivasi Community, Shree Anna means getting more crops for less water, Shree Anna is a big foundation for chemical-free farming, Shree Anna is a huge help in fighting climate change,” he added.
Millets were declared nutri-cereals in 2018 where work was carried out on all levels from making the farmers aware of its benefits to generating interest in the market, he said.
He added that millets are primarily cultivated in 12 or 13 States. Earlier, the consumption per month per person was not more than three kilograms, whereas it has increased to 14 kilograms per month at present, Mr. Modi added.
The Prime Minister said the sale of millet food products had also seen a boost of roughly 30%.
Mr. Modi claimed that India’s millet mission — the campaign for Shree Anna — would prove to be a boon for 2.5 crore farmers of the country.
He said millets were known for their climate resilience and could be easily produced even in adverse climatic conditions.
“It is a preferred crop for water-stressed areas as it requires relatively less water to produce. Millets can be grown naturally without chemicals and thereby safeguards the health of both humans and the soil,” he added.
Talking about the food security challenges faced in the world of today, he flagged the challenge of food security for the poor in the Global South and diseases linked to food habits in the Global North.
“On one hand we have the problem of food security, and on the other hand the problem of food habits”, he said as he pointed out the concerns about heavy use of chemicals in the produce. “Shree Anna provides solutions to such problems as it is easy to grow, its cost is also less in this, and it gets ready for cultivation faster than other crops,” he said. He also listed the benefits of millets and said it is rich in nutrition, special in taste, high in fibre content, which is very beneficial for the body and health that can also help in preventing lifestyle-related diseases.
Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, in a video message, offered 200 acres of land in his country for exclusive production of millets in honour of the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets. He said India in exchange will provide technology and support for enhancing the farm production and productivity of millets.