Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals. It mainly includes sorghum, ragi, pearl millet, small millet, proso millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet etc. They are adapted to harsh environment of semi-arid tropics. They require low or no purchased inputs, thus they are backbone for dry land agriculture.
Observation of Year of Millets will help in promotion of production and consumption of millets will substantially contribute in fight against targeted hunger and mitigate effect of climate change in long run. Popularizing millets will also benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers. Millets are smart food and good for consumers, farmers and planet multiple and has untapped uses such as food, feed, biofuels and brewing.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has written to UN's body FAO to declare upcoming year as 'International Year of Millets' to boost global production of this nutritious cereal.
Singh has written a letter to Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an official statement said.
"To garner wider global attention and action, India has mooted a proposal to FAO for declaration of an upcoming year as International Year of Millets," he said in the letter.
India is celebrating 2018 as the National Year of Millets. The Government is promoting cultivation by amending cropping pattern of areas which are especially susceptible to climate change.
The minimum support price (MSP) of millets has been increased by more than 50 per cent of cost of production.
"It is an important component of our efforts to achieve the national commitment of doubling farmers' income by 2022," he wrote.
Singh had earlier written to Secretary General of the UN in November 2017 in this regard.
The minister has requested the inclusion of this proposal in the agenda of the 26th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) meeting, scheduled during October 1-5, 2018 in Rome.
Singh said this proposal has received support of the member countries when placed in the Bureau meeting of the committee on agriculture held on July 5, 2018.
"It is highly desirable that global efforts are stepped up to bring these nutria-cereals back to the food basket of a wide range of consumers, rural and urban as well as rich and poor, for boosting their production as well," he added.
Millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fibre and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous. It provides nutritional security and act as shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.