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Sangareddy: People seeking to overcome health problems and also those wanting to lose weight, are preferring to consume millets in India. However, taste, high price, longer cooking time and also limited availability, are deterring people from consuming them to a large extent. These were the findings of the first ever and large-scale survey on millet consumption in India has been published, offering valuable insights for government and private sectors into consumer trends to help further mainstream these nutri-cereals.
The results from the survey of over 15,500 individuals, coordinated by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), and reported in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems journal, showed that improving health and wellness, weight loss and taste were the top reasons for those consuming millets in urban areas. The survey was carried out in seven cities – Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, in the year 2017 and the data recently analysed in detail, form an important baseline to track the changing consumer views about millets.
Joanna Kane-Potaka, the study’s first author and Assistant Director General (External Relations) and Executive Director of the Smart Food initiative at ICRISAT, said that health awareness alone would not be enough to influence the population to consume millets. “The report emphasises these insights to show the need for tasty products and simple recipes made from millets as well as the need for changing the image of millets,” said Kane-Potaka.
Dr Suresh K Malhotra, Commissioner of Agriculture, Government of India said, “The data provides good insights and is a baseline that will be useful across India and the world when we prepare for initiatives in the run-up to the International Year of Millets in 2023.”
Prof Prabhu Pingali, Chair, ICRISAT Governing Board, added that the survey was an example of the institute working closely with governments to provide scientific agricultural and related information to inform good public policy. “Understanding consumers and their desires and perceptions is critical in designing these policies,” he said.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, said it is imperative for millet promoting initiatives to reach the whole population as these crops offer a multitude of benefits. “They help farmers build climate-resilience, contribute to environmental sustainability and offer a range of nutritional benefits, including addressing micronutrient deficiencies and helping manage lifestyle disorders such as diabetes,” said Dr Hughes.
“IIMR has been widely promoting the health benefits of millets and developing nutritious products. This survey further emphasises consumer interest and the need to keep reaching out to spread the good news about millets,” Dr Vilas A Tonapi, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research, said.