Focus on the millets value chain for fortified nutritional security

Source: The post is based on the article “Focus on the millets value chain for fortified nutritional securitypublished in Live Mint on 28th June 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Agriculture

Relevance: measures needed to boost millet consumption

News: India is the world’s largest millet producer. India’s Pearl Millet production accounts for 40% of the world’s millet production.

What are millets and what are its benefits?

Read Here: India’s Wealth: Millet For Health – Explained

Millets can be grown on less fertile and acidic soils where wheat cannot be produced. Pearl and finger millets can also act as an excellent substitute for rice cultivation on land where there is high soil salinity.

However, despite its multiple benefits, the area under cultivation of millets has declined over the years.

What are the reasons behind low production and consumption of millets?

Read Here: Millet Production in India – Explained

Due to the rapid urbanization, the taste and preferences of consumers changed over time, shifting more towards ready-to-eat food using refined wheat flour.

As a result, India’s per capita millet consumption fell drastically from 32.9kg to 4.2kg, while wheat almost doubled from 27kg to 52kg, between 1962 and 2010.

Further, studies have also shown that households in India have lack of knowledge on how to incorporate millets in their diets. Taste is another reason many people resist eating millets.

What measures have been taken by the government to boost millets consumption?

The Indian government named millets as ‘Shree Anna’ in the Union Budget 2023-24.

The government also announced support for the Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad, as a centre of excellence for sharing best practices, research and technologies at the international level.

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What more can be done to boost the consumption of millets?

Rather than focusing only on one segment of the millets (spreading health awareness), there is a need to focus on the entire value chain.

This includes improved varieties while assuring millets better shelf lives, efficient processing and access to markets, branding, packaging, awareness programmes, and also collaborations with ready-to-eat brands.

There is also a need for breakthroughs in productivity to make these crops more competitive and stimulate commercial demand. The efforts taken to boost poultry egg demands in India can also be taken into consideration.

What lesson can be learnt from the poultry egg industry?

During the 1980s, poultry farmers in India faced a problem of low egg demand due to the country’s predominantly vegetarian culture.

At that time, B.V. Rao (father of the Indian poultry industry) took inspiration from the Amul cooperative model to form a cooperative egg model. Thus, the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) was formed.

However, the main challenge faced was low demand for poultry eggs. To overcome the challenge, the NECC collaborated with a top advertising agency and developed a creative jingle, “Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao ande,”

It resonated well with the country’s middle class and per capita consumption of eggs significantly increased over time. Hence, a similar kind of aggressive campaign is needed for millets to boost its demand and consumption in India.

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