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proposal and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets in March 2021.
In 2018, India celebrated the National Year of Millets. Further, with the help of research and development, the government is also popularizing nutri-cereals. It has established 3 Centres of Excellence (CoE) and also supports start-ups and entrepreneurs in developing recipes and value-added products that promote the consumption of millets.
Millets in India
Millets are a rich source of protein, fibre, minerals, iron, calcium and have a low glycemic index. Nutri-cereals are grown in arid and semi-arid tracts under low rainfall (200-600 mm) conditions. These are known for their nutrient-rich content and characteristics like drought tolerance, photo-insensitivity, resilience to climate change, etc.
Millets are grown in about 21 states in the country including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana.
5th largest exporter
India is now the 5th largest exporter of millets globally. Nearly 41% of total global production was met by India in 2020. In 2020-21, it exported millets worth US $26.97 million.
India major export destinations are Nepal, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, the UK, Yemen, Oman, and Algeria. Nepal (US$ 6.09 million), the UAE (US$ 4.84 million), and Saudi Arabia (US$ 3.84 million) were the top three importers of millets from India in 2020-21.
The production of millets increased from 14.52 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 17.96 million tonnes in 2020-21. The production of bajra also increased from 8.07 million tonnes to 10.86 million tonnes during the same period.
The Indian government notified millets as nutri-cereals in April 2018. Then to facilitate the movement of the millets, it revised guidelines for the movement of surplus production of millets to other states. A provision of inter-state transportation of surplus millets has been incorporated via the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to cater for advance demand placed by the consuming state before the start of procurement.
On 20th December 2021, NITI Aayog also signed a Statement of Intent with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to support India in taking a global lead in knowledge exchange using the opportunity of 2023 as an International Year of Millets. It also aims at building resilient livelihoods for small-holder farmers and adaptation capacities to climate change and transforming food systems.