Read full article by Vaishali Dar @Financial Express Photo Credit: Vaishali Dar
One of the oldest cultivated grains in the world but largely confined to the rural and tribal populations, ‘superfood’ millets are increasingly being brought to the mainstream by govt as well as private entities
Millets are slowly but steadily finding their place in the sun. One of the oldest cultivated grains in the world but largely confined to the traditional consumers in the rural and tribal belts of the country, the ‘superfood’ is increasingly seeing a healthy growth in terms of production as well as consumption. As per the Union ministry of food processing industries, the production of millets increased from 14.52 million tonne in 2015-16 to 17.96 million tonne in 2020-21. The production of bajra (pearl millet) also increased from 8.07 million tonne to 10.86 million tonne during the same period.
Announcing the same last month, Prahlad Singh Patel, minister of state for food processing industries, also said a production linked scheme (PLI) will be in place to promote and strengthen the value chain for millets and millet-based products including the ready-to-eat category. While addressing a national conference on ‘Millets: The Future Super Food for India’ organised by ASSOCHAM, Patel said: “So, the quality that sets millets apart from other grains is their short growing season, and millets can develop from seeds to ready-to-harvest crops in just about 65 days. This characteristic of the millets is of vital importance in thickly populated regions of the world. If stored properly, millets can keep well for two years or beyond.”
But despite its humble background and numerous qualities, the efforts to mainstream millets to improve India’s nutrition outcome had not been too promising so far in the food and agriculture sector—both in production and consumption. Millets have not found the ‘recognition’ among the urban consumers compared to the new-found status of other ‘superfoods’ such as amaranth or quinoa.