How Can Millets Help Sri Lanka Against the Ongoing Crisis?

As declared by the United Nations, 2023 is celebrated as the International Year of the Millets keeping the SDGs in mind as food scarcity and climate change threats loom over us. Millets, as we all know, have been the major food grain for our forefathers dating back to 3000 years ago. As the nomadic man became more stationary, they shifted from eating grass to grains, majorly, millets and cultivated grains such as rice and wheat.

Now as food security threatens us, we find ourselves going back to millet. Another reason we are reverting to millet is the modern diet and lifestyle responsible for health hazards such as diabetes, kidney ailments, cardiovascular ailments, nutritional scarcity, etc.

If we want to tide over the impending crisis of failing health of our future generations and to ward off the ill effects of climate change coupled with assured food security, we must make a conscious shift in our eating habits and must move away from the popular gains to millets.

How Can Millets Help Sri Lanka Against the Ongoing Crisis?

The strategy for millets to help Sri Lanka against the ongoing crisis is fourfold and must be acted as such:

First, we must sensitize the population; particularly the children and the youth about the need and importance of shifting to millet. We must organize about 10 camps in each province of the country. As there are nine provinces in Sri Lanka, we must address 90 such awareness camps by briefing school kids on including millet in their daily diet to get rid of lifestyle diseases and live healthily.

The second stage is the initiation of production-oriented programs throughout the dry and semi-arid regions with the most suitable variety of millets. The gestation period of millets is only 60-70 days and they can thrive in minimum water and even be cultivated as off-season crops.

The third stage is the harvest and post-harvest management of the crops for their processing and marketing.

The fourth stage is the value-addition process that will help farmers get the best price for their produce without resorting to distress sales or exploitation by the hands of merchants.

Sri Lanka has to focus on kick-starting this program with the active cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and aid agencies to firstly, start a comprehensive survey of the suitable land for cultivating millets in dry areas; and secondly to create awareness among the youth and school going children about the long-lasting salutary effects of millets from the wellness point of view.

What Global Millet Foundation Can Do to Help Sri Lanka Fight Food Scarcity Through Millets?

If the government of Sri Lanka is willing, we at the Global Millets Foundation can send experts to address the students and the youth, to begin with, in collaboration with the host country professionals.

Once that is accomplished, we can start the nationwide survey to identify the most suitable land for cultivation and the identification of the best quality seeds and cultural practices. In the next stage, our organization will help plan the harvest and postharvest techniques along with value-addition strategies.

The most important thing here is to make millets available to urban consumers at affordable prices and make millets consumer friendly.  We urge the government of Sri Lanka to consider this project as an initiative to fight the ongoing crisis as it is nothing more than an investment in human beings. A healthy nation is the first non-negotiable priority for a growing nation.

Dr. KM George


Global Millets Foundation

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