India Celebrated the year 2018 as the National Year of Millet., Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, spoke on the benefits of millets and coarse grains at the Yoga Awards and Ayush Centre Launch ceremony on 30 August 2019 and at inauguration of World Food India 2017, held between 3-5 November 2017 at New Delhi. He highlighted the role of millets in ensuring food security and nutrition, underlining their resilience to adverse climate conditions, and their potential to ensure increased incomes for resource-poor farmers.
Smart Food Initiative identified several key issues in developing the value chain for Millets and Sorghum in India: Industry workshops, focus groups and a survey with 78 small to medium enterprises (including farmer producer organizations and product manufacturers) were undertaken.
Top challenges included:
- Attracting Investment Funding
- Costs to sell through large retail chains
- Lack of awareness among consumers
- Image of millets as old-fashioned food.
Smart Food Initiative aims to address these issues and strengthen the supply chain through cluster development model (Read more).
Smart Food Initiative aims to bring millets into mainstream to reach the mass market. A range of activities will be used, including:
- Making it as easy and quick as possible to prepare tasty millet dishes. See recipes section – but much more to come; and
- Making it easy to find millet products. New tools will be developed for this.
- Change the image of millets to something modern and create a buzz around them. A range of campaign work and engaging celebrity chefs will be undertaken.
Some activities to date include:
Engaging Food Service Industry: Smart Food is a catalyst to spread the value and opportunities for Food service to work with millets. We have worked with Government of Karnataka (Organics and Millets Trade Fair) and MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences. Some activities include:
- Smart Food Culinary Challenge for Student Chefs
- Smart Food Culinary Symposium for chefs and restaurateurs
- Placing smart food in Industrial Canteen Menu
Bringing millets into school feeding programs: Smart Food has collected lessons learnt on the best ways to introduce millets into school meals. We have also piloted to show the student acceptance and nutritional benefits.
Working with Akshaya Patra, approximately 1,500 adolescent school children provided a millet-based mid-day meal. A random sample of 10% of the children given millet-based school lunches showed 50% faster growth than those eating fortified rice based meals. What’s more, the children rated them as at least 4.5 out of five for taste, making millet-based meals not only healthy but appealing as well. (Read more)
Supporting the government of India: Smart Food has contributed to the government strategies. This include some Government of India initiatives:
- Declared 2018 as a national year of millets
- Leading a global movement to have 2023 declared as the International Year of Millets. (Read more)
Smart Food millet efforts in India are coordinated in collaboration with: