The growing global population owing to the need for more affordable and nutritious food options has challenged the prevailing agriculture, horticulture, and food and drink processing technologies. Experts suggest using millets as one possible solution to address such concerns.
Millets are a group of plants cultivated for their tiny edible seeds, widely grown worldwide as cereal crops or grain for food. These are highly nutritious as well as resistant to pests and drought, and thus possess immense environmental sustainability. Moreover, the non-glutinous nature of millets makes them safe for people with allergies and long-term autoimmune disorders. Despite these salient features, millets have yet to be utilised to address issues relevant to food and nutrition security.
To create awareness regarding the production and consumption of millets, the United Nations has declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYOM). Endorsing the use of millets may provide unswerving backing to accomplish a number of the UN’s sustainable development goals, including zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, responsible consumption and production, life on land, etc. The IYOM is aimed at providing a unique opportunity to promote millets as a critical component of the food basket. This will be significant, especially in regions with poor soil or areas affected by climate change and severe weather events.
The public and private sectors, including academics, research organisations, media, food industry, agricultural segment and the relevant ministries, must pay attention to the task of making arrangements to commemorate IYOM in its true spirit.
With all the climatic hazards that are part of life today, our agricultural land and production is under stress, catalysing the economic turmoil. In these worst circumstances, it is indeed a national duty to play our part in utilising the support available from the UN to elevate awareness of the contribution of millets to motivate the stakeholders on improving sustainable production and quality of millets.
IYOM is a wonderful opportunity to boost ventures in research and development (R&D) and extension services to achieve the sustainable development goals.
DR INTIKHAB ULFAT