India urges UN to declare 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'

Highlights:

  • India has sent a proposal to the United Nations (UN) for declaring the year 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'.
  • The proposal, if agreed, will raise awareness about millets among consumers, policy makers, industry and R&D sector.
  • Millet is a common term to categorise small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals.
  • It includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
  • The country's proposal was sent to the global body recently by the Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.
  • Promotion of production and consumption of millets through conscious efforts at global level is likely to contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run.
  • Popularising millets would benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers.
  • Millets is nutritionally superior to wheat and rice due to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous.
  • Millets can provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
  • Swaminathan, popularly known as father of green revolution in India, had even suggested the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for declaring one year in the current decade as International Year of Millets and Under-utlised Crops.
  • The FAO is specialised agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
  • The anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets.
  • Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants.
  • Millets are considered backbone for dry land agriculture, adapted to harsh environment of the semi-arid tropics.
  • Millets are climate resilient crops that have a low carbon and water footprint.
  • These crops can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.