Millets, often termed nutri-cereals, are a Smart Food as they are:
Good for you as millets are not only highly nutritious but target some of the highest malnutrition problems. For example,
Pearl millet is high in iron, zinc and folic acid which is not only among the highest micronutrient needs but also particularly important for adolescent girls and women.
Finger millet has three times the amount of calcium as milk – also critical for women and babies.
Millets are also high in antioxidants and important for fighting diabetes and heart disease which are at significantly increasing levels in India.
Good for the planet reflecting the low water footprint and fewer pesticides and fertilizers needed and hence lower carbon footprint. This is not only better for the environment but means there is less financial investment risk for farmers.
Good for the smallholder farmer Millets are naturally climate smart. They are typically the last crop standing in times of drought. Some pearl millets have been known to withstand up to 64o Celsius. Millets can be a good risk management strategy for the farmers. The multiple untapped uses (fodder, biofuels, food products, brewing and more) also can be good value for farmers if developed. Millets also have a large scope for further yield development.
However, compared to other major crops, millets receive very little funding and attention, less government support, less developed value chains, less developed processing industry, and overall less awareness and knowledge about their value.Download PDF