Mission Millets – The golden Mission of India

by Subhechcha Ganguly
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Vision of Arabinda Kumar Padhee

The request was made in a letter sent on Wednesday to all other chief secretaries, senior secretaries, and secretaries of other departments by the department’s main secretary, Arabinda Kumar Padhee. Ranendra Pratap Swain, the minister of agriculture, also made a tweet about it. The state government is executing the Odisha Millets Mission (OMM) in 19 districts to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged rain-fed farmers, according to Padhee’s letter.
In order to sell a variety of millet-based food products, Millet Shakti outlets have been constructed in Keonjhar, Sundargarh, and Bhubaneswar as part of the state’s OMM effort, the letter continued.

A brief introduction about Millets

Major millets (jowar, bajra, and ragi, which make up 80% of the millets farmed in India) and minor millets are the two categories of millets (foxtail, little millets, barnyard, kodo and brown-top). They are regarded to be much more nutritious than the South American superfoods quinoa and chia, which have become popular among affluent Indians, and are India’s very own superfoods. Millets are also high in minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, and B-complex vitamins, as well as carbohydrates, protein, dietary fibre, and good-quality fat. Most crucially, they cost one-fourth as much as the imported grains (a 1 kilogramme pack of quinoa costs 500 yen).

Poor Man’s Diet

The modest grains jowar, bajra, and ragi, once referred to as the “poor man’s diet,” are now fashionable. Consumers purchase millet milk, dosa mix, flour, and cookies, and hotel brands like ITC Hotels have even developed a millet menu for banquets and business centres. The diets of cricket players and Bollywood stars like Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, and Virat Kohli also include jowar and bajra.

The breakfast cereal firm Kellogg has been employing millets in many of its products, including muesli and chocos, but it also utilises a variety of other grains. It had tried ragi chocolates, but those experiments had failed, and according to Prashant Peres, MD, South Asia, Kellogg, the taste had ruined things. According to Peres, the business is attempting to use millets to get the ideal balance between flavour and nutrition. “We aim to have a high % hit rate when we enter the market.”According to Baba Ramdev of Patanjali, “deficiencies such as vitamin B12, vitamin E, and even lifestyle disorders like diabetes, arthritis, and heart issues are common nowadays since we don’t incorporate millets in our diet meal.”

Investment from Odisha

 

Why then were millets ignored? Put it down to the Green Revolution in 1960, when hunger was a bigger problem and rice and wheat agriculture proved to be much more scalable and cost-effective. Paddy and wheat were chosen by policymakers over millets. “During the Green Revolution, we were oblivious because no one considered dietary security. Oilseeds, pulses, soybean, and maize were all produced on the same dry plains where millets were normally grown. According to Dayakar Rao, chief scientist and CEO of Nutrihub at the Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), a division of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, “the real hunger was not addressed since there was a micronutrients deficiency.

Importance Of Millets

In India, malnutrition affects more than 60% of women and children. Millets are an excellent choice for nutrition because they include 65% carbs, 6-12.5% protein, and 1.5-5.0% fat. This makes millets an energy-dense food. The good news is that despite a decline in millet cultivation, yields per hectare have increased as a result of improved farming techniques and the introduction of high-yielding crop varieties. In the past eight years, the yield has grown at a CAGR of 0.31%, according to an IIMR white paper.

Green Revolution

“Green Revolution is an economic triumph, not a scientific one. According to science, it was a mistake to chose rice and wheat because they can only be cultivated under specific, limited conditions, claims independent scientist Khader Valli, well known as the “Millet Man” of India. By teaching them how to grow millets, Valli has given over 10,000 marginal farmers (who own arid land parcels) a fresh lease on life.

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