MSSRF International Conference on Mighty Millets for Food, Nutrition, and Health Security
CHENNAI: AUGUST 06, 2023
Tamil Nadu Government allots 50,000 acres land for millet cultivation under Tamil Nadu Millet Mission
Thiru R. Sakkarapani, Hon’ble Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Government of Tamil Nadu, announces that Tamil Nadu Government is set to extend the implementation of the five-year Millet Mission to 20 districts. “Millets will be distributed through the Public Distribution System (PDS) at subsidised rates, and incentives will be given to bring fallow land under millet cultivation,” he said, adding that this move will ensure “crop diversification in agricultural land.” He also emphasised on the importance of including all types of millets in daily diets. “Millets provide us with good nutritional benefits, and have calcium, phosphorus, fibre and protein – all essential for our health.”
He was speaking at the inaugural function of the three-day international conference on ‘Mighty Millets for Food, Nutrition, and Health Security’ hosted by M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) at Chennai. MSSRF is celebrating its 34th year anniversary and the Minister released the Annual Report on the occasion. Thiru Sakkarapani also inaugurated the Millet Exhibition showcasing several leading millet farmer producer organisations, millet processing and product development companies, national millet research institutions, among others. He interacted with the tribal farmers as well.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chairperson MSSRF, “Decades ago Prof M S Swaminathan coined the term ‘Nutri-cereals’ for the millet family to emphasise their role of fulfilling the gaps in nutrition and health, also food insecurity.” She added: “My father’s dream was that there should be at least two knowledge workers in every village, and at MSSRF, we look forward to recommitting ourselves to that vision.”
Mr. Konda Reddy Chavva, Assistant FAO Representative, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, FAO-India said: “The international year of millets 2023 reflects a strong commitment by India towards combating food security and malnutrition, and a firm showing of India’s leadership in promoting millets, one of the worlds important yet underutilized food sources.”
Dr. Ruth DeFries, Prof Ecology and Sustainable Development, Columbia University, New York said: “Our planet has reached a tipping point and we have an abundance of evidences that climate change is now a reality. But, there is a more positive and hopeful tipping point happening today at the conference, with the revival of the climate resilient traditional millets. The way forward in how humans can feed themselves by utilizing the forest bounty is through the revival of millet.”
Ms. Elisabeth Faure, Representative and Country Director of UN World Food Programme India said: “Millets are the powerful weapon to global hunger and malnutrition. A global hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions is prevalent Worldwide, and we are at critical crossroads between the challenge of meeting people’s needs immediately as well as building long term resilience. Millets can emerge as powerful weapons against this war.”
Millet-growing farmers shared their perspectives:
Vennila Sivakumar, Director KolliHills Agrobiodiversity Pvt Co Ltd, Nammakka, Tamil Nadu, shared her experience of production surplus millets are valued added by the Farmers Producer Company and the processing Unit has reduced the drudgery in manual processing.
Laichan Sukia , progressive millet farmer from Machhara village, Koraput, Odisha, shared that he has learnt millet cultivation is a tradition in his family, but he always suffered poor crop yield, sometime less than three quintals per acre, but with training from MSSRF on improved technologies, he enjoys up to 13 quintals.
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.