Experts bat for policy intervention to promote millet cultivation

ASSOCHAM recently hosted a Virtual Session on Millets 2021: Status & Way Forward to the status, challenges and way forward of the Millet Industry in India, in association with HarvestPlus and NuFFooDS Spectrum

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Apex industry body ASSOCHAM hosted a Virtual Session on Millets 2021: Status & Way Forward to the status, challenges and way forward of the millet industry in India. The discussions invited views on policy interventions required to promote the production of millets crops in India and increasing its area under cultivation and also the role of all stakeholders associated with the industry in one way or the other.

 

Dr Suresh Kumar Malhotra, Agriculture Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare the chief guest for the session shared his views and said, "Despite a decrease in the area for production, millets are gaining momentum and making their way into the consumers’ plates. These cereal grains have been recognised as 'Nutri –cereal' as they can be medium to fight malnutrition in India due to their higher nutritional value and can be promoted to grow as they are a very climate-resilient crop."

 

He mentioned the initiatives taken up by the GoI to enhance millets an alternative crop. The year 2023 will be observed as the International Year of Millets, following India’s proposal to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which was approved at the 160th session of the FAO Council in December 2018.

 

Vinita Sudhanshu, Deputy GM, APEDA shared her views on boosting the exports of millet and emphasised the major interventions required in the millet supply chain including a focus on high potential production districts including cultivation in rain-fed areas, fellow lands and wasteland leading to the establishment of millet clusters establishment of modern millets based processing units and modernisation of existing millet processing units, development of incubation centres, and increasing exporters base across India. She added that APEDA has awarded a study on Refinement of Export Strategy in the wake of International Year of Millets 2023 for strengthening of the supply chain of millets and value-added products of Millets. 

 

Vikas Jain, Joint MD, PMV Nutrients mentioned that despite the Green Revolution, which favoured rice and wheat, millets in India have survived, thanks to cultural traditions, but came to be known as “coarse grains.”.

 

Dr Vilas Tonapi, Director, The Indian Institute of Millets Research (ICAR-IIMR) presented the production status and challenges of the millets in India. "To increase the demand for millets they need to be incorporated in the PDS scheme, ICDS programme and other such initiatives of the government," he said. 

 

Unupom Kausik, President, NCML, emphasised that the quality of the warehousing is something that needs to be worked upon. Mechanised silos, temperature-controlled storage, are all coming in but as sophistication is added the storage cost is bound to increase. 

 

Akhilesh Singh, Lead Breeder-Pearl Millet, Bayer BioScience, presented his views on seed production, quality control, distribution and exchange networks for millet and gave a brief overview of the hybrid seed production with details regarding, production technology, production efficiency and production quality. 

 

Pradnya Paithankar, SDG Manager, UN-WFP presented her views on the acceptability and adaptability of the millets in India. She gave a brief context regarding the millets in India and said that millets, which are often termed as ‘Nutri-cereals’ and already contribute substantially to food and nutrition security to the community, is posed as the ‘crops of the future and a ‘climate-smart crop’. She added that success lies in systematically strengthening the millets value chain- from seeds and cultivation to palatable nutritious recipes and products.

 

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