- Acting on India’s proposal, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has agreed to celebrate ‘International Year of Millets’ in 2023.
- Aim is to create awareness and inspire all stakeholders to work towards improving production and productivity of the climate-resilient and nutritious millets across the globe.
- Significance: The decision of FAO Committee on Agriculture to endorse India’s proposal in Rome signifies India’s prominence in agriculture diplomacy.
- Government steps to recognise millets in India:
- India’s India, which celebrates 2018 as ‘National Year of Millets’, had in April notified these cereals as ‘ nutri-cereals’ and allowed its inclusion in the Public Distribution System (PDS) for improving nutritional support.
- Recognising millets’ anti-diabetic properties, the notification called it a “powerhouse of nutrients” and identified several varieties of millets for promotion.
- The millets in the category of “ Nutri-Cereals” include Sorghum(Jowar), Pearl Millet
(Bajra), Finger Millet ( Ragi), Foxtail Millet (Kangani/ Kakun) and Buckwheat ( Kuttu) among others.
- In July 2018, the government substantially hiked the minimum support price (MSP) of millets so that more and more farmers may opt for cultivation of these less water consuming crops.
- International trade fair on organics and millets:
- The Karnataka government will hold an international trade fair on organics and millets in January 2019 in Bengaluru to promote them as the next-generation smart foods.
- The second edition of the Organics and Millets International Trade Fair 2019 will be the largest congregation of India’s Organic and Millets community.
- As the largest gathering of the stakeholders (Farmers, sellers, buyers and exporters), the fair will position Karnataka as the country’s millets capital and promote them as the best food for all.
According to the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), over 500 million people in more than 30 countries depend on sorghum as a staple food. However, in the past 50 years, these grains have largely been abandoned in favour of more popular crops like maize, wheat, rice and soybeans.