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International Year of Millets 2023

High Commission of India



International Year of Millets 2023

          At the initiative of Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Government of India had proposed to the United Nations for declaring 2023 as International Year of Millets (IYoM). The proposal of India was supported by 72 countries and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2023 as International Year of Millets (IYOM) in March, 2021. Millets are important by virtue of its contribution to livelihood generation, food and nutritional security in various parts of the world.

          The term ‘Millet’ is derived from the French word “mille” which means thousand, implying a handful of millet can hold up thousands of grains.  Millets are a rich source of Protein, Fibre, Minerals, Iron, Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and have a low glycemic index.  Millets reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes & cardiovascular diseases and beneficial in treating and prevention of gallstones and stomach ulcers.  These are nutritionally dense and reduce anaemia, liver disorder and asthma. Millets are rich in antioxidants and lowers blood glucose response and reduce the risk of Type-II Diabetes.  Millets high dietary fibre provides hunger satisfaction and helps reduce obesity.

          India is a major producer of Millets, accounting for 80% of Asia’s production and 20% of global production. India’s average yield of Millets (1239 kg/hectare) is also higher than Global average yield of 1229 kg/hectare.          India itself is a major consumer of Millets and accounts for nearly 38% of the consumption of its domestic produce.  The humble millet has been grown in the Indian subcontinent for 5,000 years.  There are many different kind of Millets, each with their own benefits and ways to include them in the diet.  Indian Millets are mainly classified into two types based on grain size - Major Millets (Sorghum, Pearl Millet, and Finger Millet), which require minimal processing after harvesting and can be directly used after being washed and Minor Millets (Foxtail Millet, Proso Millet, Kodo Millet, Barnyard Millet, Little Millet), which are husked grain and comes with indigestible seed coat which separated prior to consumption as a part of post-harvest processing.

          The focus on healthy eating and good nutrition cannot be understated, especially in the post-pandemic era. Eating whole grains such as wheat, rice, lentils and pulses is a common practice that has been recommended by experts. Millet is also one such ancient superfood that has been garnering interest in the recent past.  The Millet is a healthy grain and has a mild taste.  It is easy to dress up with vegetables, herbs and proteins. Like most grains, it can pair with just about anything, but has a nuttier, more flavorful taste.

          Millets are one of the oldest foods, these are the small-seeded hardy crops which can grow well in dry zones or rain-fed areas under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are cultivated in low-fertile land, tribal and rain-fed and mountainous areas.  Due to their short growing season, Millets can develop from seeds to ready to harvest crops in just about 65 days.  This highly beneficial 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.

January 2023