An Exclusive Interview with the Founders of Navilay Enterprises

Mr. Malay Banerjee & Mrs. Navita Banerjee
Mr. Malay Banerjee & Mrs. Navita Banerjee

Millets are small, round-shaped whole grains cultivated in many African and Asian countries including India. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at its 75th session in March 2021 had declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023).

The aim is to raise awareness on the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse & changing climatic conditions.

Krishi Jagran got an opportunity to interact with Malay Banerjee & Navita Banerjee of M/s Navilay Enterprises and discuss the importance of millets in the present world.

What are millets and why are they catching the world’s attention?

Millets are food grains belonging to the grass family and are perhaps the oldest grains known to man. They have been cultivated across the world and till about a century ago were the staple diet of human beings in Asia, Africa and the Americas. But in the past 50-60 years wheat and rice have replaced millets in our dishes. This change has also become a major cause of the ill health we now suffer as human beings and people are realising that these grains are the ones which can bring back their health.

How did you venture into this field?

We realised the importance of adopting the 5 Siridhanya millets 3 years back when we heard the lectures of Dr. Khadar Wali. He is regarded by many as the “Millet Man of India” and has done pathbreaking work and has researched millets extensively. We tried to source these grains from various sources like online or supermarkets but we got only inferior quality polished stuff which were no good. It was then that we decided to source these millets from the original millet growers in South India, not only for ourselves, but for people in the Northern parts of India whom we knew, at very nominal prices. We have not looked back since.

We hear a lot about positive, negative and neutral millets? What do these terms mean?

First of all, let us understand that our intestines or our guts, are like our second brain. They play a key role in maintaining our health. The guts can be kept healthy if we have a majority of good microbiomes, i.e., good bacteria, fungi, yeasts etc. residing in our guts. For that, we need to eat abundant quantities of fibre rich food. Millets like bajra and ragi, at 3% fibre have double the fibre than whole wheat. However even this fibre content can only keep us healthy if we are already healthy, but they cannot reverse diseases. Thus, these are called Neutral Millets. The five Siridhanya millets viz. Little, Browntop, Foxtail, Barnyard and Kodo have between 8-11% fibre in them. This much fibre, if consumed regularly, have disease reversing capabilities by enhancing the growth of good microbiomes. That is why these are called Positive Millets. Wheat and Paddy Rice with only about 1.2 and 0.2% fibre respectively, are called Negative grains.

What are the other benefits of millets?

There are many additional benefits. These crops being very hardy in nature, do not need any pesticides to be sprayed on them, they are naturally organic. This protects the soil as well as our health. They are gluten free and can be consumed by diabetics. Also, they require very less water to grow. 1 kg of millets require just 250 litres to grow while 1 kg of wheat requires 11000 litres of water. Just imagine how much of fresh water we can save if more people start consuming millets.

What has the future in store for millets?

We are seeing an enormous interest in the general public who are getting attracted towards millets. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are now trying to grow millets in a big way. They are being ably supported by organizations like Kheti Virasat Mission. We feel the future of millets and human health too will be very bright if we are able to convince people to consume more and more millets. International year of the Millet will also reinforce this interest. We thank Agriculture World for bringing out this month’s edition specially focussing on millets. Let us consume “Mil ke Millets” and bring about a millet revolution in 2023. Wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Share your comments

FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters