[Answered] Millets are termed a ‘super grain’ for good reasons. Discuss the multidimensional benefits associated with enhancing millet cultivation.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some multidimensional benefits associated with enhancing millet cultivation.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Millets are cereal crops with high nutritive value and categorized as small-seeded grasses. The key varieties of millets include Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Ragi, Small Millet, Foxtail Millet, Barnyard Millet, Kodo Millet and others. Major producers include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana. 2023 was declared as the “International year of millets” by the UN.

Multidimensional benefits associated with enhancing millet cultivation:

  • 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.
  • Agri-growth: India is the largest global producer with a 41% market share. A compound annual growth rate of 4.5% is projected for the global millet market in the coming decade.
  • 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 indexthat 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 farmer and achieve the objectives of enhancing incomes and improving crop diversification.

Way forward:

  • We have to enhance millet cultivation. There is a need to increase crop area under millet cultivation.
  • Millets should be included in PDS (Public Distribution System).
  • There is a need to promote agribusiness startup incubation centresand increase popular awareness of benefits of millets among consumers.
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