Millets promise better health as they can reduce the risk of many ailments. They are a strong source of proteins, fats, vitamins and other nutrients.
Seeking higher yields and thus better economic benefits, the vegetables, fruits and grains that we consume today are doused with chemicals and fertilisers. Reports suggest consuming such foods may lead to cancer.
In India, there has been a rising concern over the quality of food products, and we are seeing a slow-but-increasing demand for chemical-free and organic food. The organic food market is estimated at Rs 1,500 crore, and is expected to double to Rs 3,000 crore in the next three years.
Recognising the agricultural and health benefits of millets, the Government of India is promoting the cultivation of crops like nutri-cereals, which comprises sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet (ragi) and small millets, little millet (kutki), kodo millet, barnyard millet (sawa), foxtail millet (kagni) and proso millet (cheena).
“The government has prepared a roadmap to promote millets and achieve increase in area and output. They are targeting production of 46 million tonnes by 2022-23, taking it up from the current 17 million tonnes. A mini-mission called ‘NFSM – Nutri-cereals’ has been launched by the Ministry of Agriculture this year, with an allocation of Rs 300 crore,” says Ashok Dalwai, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.