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India-Africa Int’l Millet Conference’s Curtain Raiser Event Held in Nairobi, Kenya

The upcoming 'India-Africa International Millet Conference' promises to be a significant platform for exchanging knowledge, promoting millet cultivation, and exploring opportunities for collaboration among India, Kenya, and other global stakeholders.

Shivam Dwivedi
India-Africa Int’l Millet Conference’s Curtain Raiser Event Held in Nairobi, Kenya (Photo Source: @harsama_kello/Twitter)
India-Africa Int’l Millet Conference’s Curtain Raiser Event Held in Nairobi, Kenya (Photo Source: @harsama_kello/Twitter)

India and Kenya are joining forces to host the 'India-Africa International Millet Conference' in Kenya, as part of the celebrations for the International Year of Millets. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development of Kenya, with the support of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), will co-host the conference on August 30-31, 2023.

This global event will bring together government leaders, researchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, and industry associations from around the world. The curtain-raiser event for the 'India-Africa International Millet Conference' was recently held in Nairobi, Kenya. The ceremony was attended by the High Commissioner of India to Kenya, Joint Secretary (Crops) from the Government of India, the Principal Secretary from the Government of Kenya, and the Director General of ICRISAT. Officials from Kenya's agricultural sector, members of the diplomatic community, international agricultural research leaders, farmers, and representatives from the private sector were also present.

The primary objective of the conference is to raise public awareness about millets as the "world's emerging smart food." Millets are known for their high levels of minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, and other vital nutrients. They are also resilient to drought and pests, making them climate-friendly crops that can enhance income opportunities and livelihoods for smallholder farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

During the curtain-raiser event, Dr. Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, highlighted the agenda of the conference and emphasized the importance of strengthening the value chains of millets. She stressed the need for increased mechanization, improved seed systems, digital agriculture, and value addition in millets to meet consumer demand and ensure profitable markets for farmers.

Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary (Crops) from the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of the Government of India, emphasized how the conference would facilitate the sharing of actionable strategies and serve as a platform for joint ventures, collaborations, and technology transfer among key stakeholders. She also mentioned that the Indian government has been addressing millet farming concerns since 2018 and played a significant role in declaring 2023 as the 'International Year of Millets' at the United Nations General Assembly.

Namgya Khampa, the High Commissioner of India to Kenya, highlighted the role of millets in addressing malnutrition and global hunger. He emphasized the importance of South-South cooperation in agriculture to ensure food sufficiency in countries of the global South.

Phillip Kello Harsama, Principal Secretary for Agriculture in the Government of Kenya, underscored the economic potential of millets for smallholder farmers in Kenya. Due to their minimal input requirements and relatively shorter growing duration, millets can significantly benefit Kenyan farmers and contribute to their income generation. The curtain-raiser event featured the unveiling of the logo and website of the India-Africa International Millet Conference. The website will enable participants to register for the conference and access information about the event and millets in general.

The event concluded with a panel discussion on 'Promoting Millets in Africa and India,' moderated by Dr. Rebbie Harawa, Regional Director & Country Representative, Kenya at ICRISAT. Panellists included the Director General of Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and representatives from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the private sector.

The curtain-raiser event provided an opportunity for interaction with the media and concluded with closing remarks from the Deputy High Commissioner of Kenya.

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