International Conference on Mighty Millets for Food, Nutrition, and Health Security
Background Note: To unleash the potential of millets for the well-being of people and the environment, the UN has dedicated 2023 towards greater efforts in increasing production and popularising millets given their nutritional properties and resilience towards adapting to climate change. The International Year of Millets (IYM 2023) serves as an opportunity to contribute to the well-being of humankind by enhancing cultivation and consumption of these ancient food grains. India is leading the IYM2023 celebrations worldwide.
With Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (The World is One Family), the IYM2023 is an occasion for India to promote Nutri-cereal Millets globally and place them prominently on the world’s food map. The Director General, FAO Mr. Qu Dongyu said that the IYM2023 would provide us with a unique opportunity to give visibility to crops that have great potential to strengthen global nutrition, food security, decent jobs and economics while accelerating Climate Action.
Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has also shared his vision to make IYM2023 a “People’s Movement” and position India as the ‘Global Hub for Millets’. Recognizing the enormous potential of millets, which also align with several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Government of India has prioritized millets and named it “Shree Anna”. Considering its high-nutritive value, potential for economic empowerment, and contribution to maintaining the earth’s biodiversity, our age old practices can now be harnessed to improve the lives and livelihoods of our small and marginal farmers.
Millets are easy to cultivate, are mostly organic, and contain high nutritional value and hence considered as ‘Smart Food’. Cultivated in more than 130 countries at present, millets are the traditional food for more than half a billion people across Asia and Africa. In India, millets are primarily a Kharif crop, requiring less water and agricultural inputs in comparison to other similar staples. Millets are dual purpose crops and are cultivated both as food and fodder, thus providing food/livelihood security to millions of households and contributing to the economic efficiency of farming. Millets contribute to mitigating climate change as they consume less water and have a low carbon footprint.
On the well-being front, millets are wholesome and highly nutritious grains rich in dietary fibre packed with protein, antioxidants, and minerals. They have numerous health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In addition, they are gluten-free, making them an excellent choice for people with celiac disease or following a gluten-free diet. They are rich in micronutrients, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, etc. Millet contains many types of antioxidant elements, like phenolic flavonoids, which play an important role in controlling lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, cancer, and inflammation. Antioxidants contribute to keeping the body healthy, through bolstering the immune system and reducing inflammatory activity. The International Year of Millets will raise awareness about the contribution of millets to Food, Nutrition and Ecological Security; motivate stakeholders for increased production and quality improvement of millets; and increase investment in research and development.
With this context, to create mass awareness on the diversity of millets, their invaluable nutritional properties, environmental benefits and their important role towards a healthy society, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation is organizing an International Conference on Mighty Millets for Food, Nutrition, and Health Security as part of the International Year of Millets 2023 on 6-8 August 2023 with the following objectives:
To explore the novel innovative Research and Development initiatives in millets in India and globally, and facilitate networking and partnerships between scientists
To increase awareness of millets among people as an alternative to rice, wheat, and maize; understand their nutritional benefits and ways to consume them
To present data on the nutritional properties of a variety of millets and explore similarities and differences
To learn about the various opportunities to improve the livelihood of small, marginal, and poor farmers who are the major cultivators of millets.
To understand the role of millets in adaptation to climate change.
To provide a platform for millet farmers to exhibit value-added millet products
To provide an opportunity for private companies, entrepreneurs, and start-ups to network with scientists and farmers and promote the development of more value added products from millets
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.