[Answered] Millets are considered to be “powerhouses of nutrition”. In the light of the statement, comment on the significance of the Millet for India.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain the significance of the Millet for India.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Millets is used to describe small-grained cereals like sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), little millet (kutki), finger millet (ragi/ mandua), etc. Millets are mainly a kharif crop in India. They have high nutritional value. The Agriculture Ministry has also declared millets as “Nutri Cereals”. The year 2023 will be celebrated as the International Year of Millets.

Significance of the Millet for India:

  • Social benefits: Millets possess immense potential in the battle against poverty and provide food, nutrition, fodder and livelihood security. In rainfed farming areas, millet cultivation provides livelihood to 50% of tribal and rural population.
  • Millets market: India is the largest global producer with a 41% market share. It is estimated that the millets market is set to grow from its current market value of more than USD 9 billion to over USD 12 billion by 2025.
  • Restoration of ecosystems and sustainability: Land degradation has been a major problem in India. Drought-tolerant crops (like millets) with low dependence on chemical inputs would put far less pressure on ecosystems.
  • Biofuel and climate resilience: Millets also offer a significant cost advantage over maize as a feedstock for bio-ethanol production. They have higher photosynthetic efficiency. Their potential yield is unaffected by higher carbon dioxide levels.
  • Addressing SDGs: Millet farming has led to women’s empowerment. The Odisha Millet Mission saw 7.2 million women emerge as ‘agri-preneurs’.
  • Nutritional benefits: They are a rich source of macronutrients and micronutrients like calcium, protein and iron. They have a low glycemic index that prevents type 2 diabetes. They can help to prevent cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure.
  • Water efficient: They require less water. It is about one-third of rice, wheat and sugarcane.
  • Boosting millet cultivation will empower the average farmerand achieve the objectives of enhancing incomes and improving crop diversification.

There is a need to promote agribusiness startup incubation centres and increase popular awareness of benefits of millets among consumers. We have to enhance millet cultivation. There is a need to increase crop area under millet cultivation.

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