The year 2023 is being observed as the Year of Millets. The theme of the second edition of World Food India – 2023 to be organised from 3-5 November, 2023 – is Millets, Super Food of India.
But have you ever thought why suddenly Millet – centuries food grain – gained currency in the world? Who propagated the goodness of this coarse grain which is power house? Who became the brand ambassador?
The answer stops at the door of former union agriculture commissioner and renowned agriculture scientist Dr Suresh Kumar Malhotra – popularly known as the Millet Man.
How Millet got global recognition?
It was Dr S K Malhotra who introduced the goodness of millets to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a specialised agency of United Nations, which leads global efforts to defeat hunger. In 2018, FAO invited India to participate in 26th session of FAO Committee of Agriculture meeting at Rome. Malhotra being agriculture commissioner then led the Indian delegation and presented paper on the nutritional values of Millets and pushed the agenda to promote cultivation of long forgotten coarse grain.
Through regular deliberation and aggressive push from Indian government over last five years, finally the United Nation decided to earmark 2023 as the International Year of Millet.
The whole world suddenly started talking about millets but Malhotra remained the unsung hero. He still hesitate in sharing his share of glory.
“I am happy that Millet got recognition at global level. The grain is a real power house and is full of nutrition. We must include this coarse grain in our daily diet for disease free healthy life,” Malhotra said.
He said that the endeavour to promote and introduce millets to the world was not easy. The entire leadership of government and agriculture ministry worked tirelessly to make it happen.fro
“Right from Prime Minister office to agriculture minister to secretary agriculture, everyone was focused to promote millets at global level. Now that UN recognised 2023 as Year of Millet, we have got all our dues,” Malhotra said, who is shy of talking about achievements.
UN member states lauded India for the initiative and its leadership in facilitating negotiations on the resolution.
PM Narendra Modi also expressed gratitude to all the nations who initiated and cosponsored the resolution on International Year of Millets at the United Nations through a twitter message.
UN, through a resolution considers the urgent need to raise awareness of the climate-resilient and nutritional benefits of millets and to advocate for diversified, balanced and healthy diets through the increased sustainable production and consumption of millets. It also recognises the vast genetic diversity of millets and their adaptive capacities to a range of production environments.
The International Year of Millet provides an excellent chance to:
- Improved millet's contribution to food security
- Increase millet output globally
- Making sure that the processing, transport, storage, and consumption are efficient
- Sustainable millet production and quality with stakeholder participation
Millet farming is still an area with a lot of room for ecosystem-level interventions. Promoting millets not only raises awareness of these wonder crops, but also of women farmers and their farming knowledge. Raising awareness among farmers and the general public about the numerous benefits of millets can help to revitalise millets production and consumption in India.
Vivek Shukla is a management graduate who has worked in corporate worked for 20 years and is now pursuing his passion — news.