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Importance of Millets

Importance of Millets

UPSC CSE MAINS SYLLABUS – GS –3 – Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and relatedconstraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Importance of Millets

Millets are ancient Super grains the reservoirs of nutrition for a better health. Millets (sorghum, pearl millet and small millets) are the important food and fodder crops in semi-arid regions, and are predominantly gaining more importance in a world that is increasingly becoming populous, malnourished and facing large climatic uncertainties.

Need for millets:

  • Millets were discarded in favor of wheat and rice with urbanization and industrialization. This has led to the increased groth of rice and wheat. The dietary nature of humans have now changed.
  • All these have contributed towards,
  1. Double burden of malnutrition that is undernutrition and overnutrition.
  2. Overnutrition has led to increase of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
  3. Undernutrition has led to wasting, stunting and has affected the cognitive development of children.
  • Millions of people suffer from ‘hidden hunger’ of micronutrient. They do not get enough micronutrients required to lead healthy productive lives from the foods that they eat.
  • Malnutrition in India, especially among children and women, is widespread, acute and even alarming. Anemia in India women of reproductive age and infants. (About 38.4 per cent children under the age of five in India were stunted in 2015-2016 ; with 35.8 per cent children under the age of 5 being recorded as underweight in 2015-2016. – NFHS-4)
  • High cost of agricultural inputs for fine grains and cash crops.

Benefits:

  • Millets are the super foods for the present and future., their short growing season – from planted seeds to mature, ready to harvest plants in as little as 65 days make them commercially sound. When properly stored, whole millets will keep for two or more years.
  • They are adapted to wide range of temperatures.
  • Important raw material for potable alcohol and starch production in industrialized countrie
  • Millets act as a prebiotic feeding micro-flora in our inner ecosystem.
  • Millets have low burden on land and being native crops, they require minimum amount of water and are mostly rainfed.
  • They require minimum maintenance and in overall growing millets is economically prudent.
  • They are resistant to climate change and extreme weather events.
  • Hence, millets are most needed now.

Some government measures:

  • The government has also decided to declare 2018 as ‘National Year of Millets.’
  • Special focus on millets, which are being promoted under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM).
  • Millets have been included in price support and Public distribution system. This is to be implemented with full coverage yet.
  • Millet village scheme – kerala and Millet mission – odisha are some state initiatives

Road ahead:

These are welcome however, much more initiatives are needed

Millet promotion should cover all aspects of the agricultural cycle,

  • Further, food corporation of India could be allowed to procure these nutri-cereals.
  • It could be included in the public distribution system and mid-day meals scheme.
  • Exports could happen after proper food processing and with more focus on Branding, Packaging and labeling.
  • Research is needed to develop millets to make the more climate resilient and highly remunerative.

Therefore, to overcome the targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run, there is a need to accelerate the production of coarse cereals/millets in the country.

Source:”Agriculture ministry”.

POSSIBLE UPSC MAINS EXAMINATION:

Never before have the importance of millets been so much. Elaborate. What measures have been taken to promote millets so far?