UN year for millets 2023
Food security & climate resilience
The United Nations General Assembly at its 75th session in March 2021, at the behest of the Government of India, declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023).
FAO is the lead agency for celebrating the Year in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders.
What are millets?
- Millets are cereal crops and small seed grasses, which include sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi), barnyard, foxtail, brown top and other varieties, which are widely used in African and Asian countries.
- These small crops were used for human consumption as well as a fodder for animals.
- Majorly cultivated in the semiarid tropical regions of Africa and Asia, around 97 percent of world’s overall millet production happens in these regions.
What are C4 plants?
C4 plants—including maize, sugarcane, and sorghum—avoid photorespiration by using another enzyme called PEP during the first step of carbon fixation. This step takes place in the mesophyll cells that are located close to the stomata where carbon dioxide and oxygen enter the plant.
Millets are climate resilient-
- Higher efficiency to absorb and use carbon dioxide -Known as C4 crops, millets have higher efficiency in absorbing and utilizing carbon dioxide.
- Water deficient crops -Most varieties of millets are water deficient crops, known for their capacity to withstand prolonged periods of intense drought, high erratic temperatures and still able to produce grains and fodder.
- Millets can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and are resilient to changes in climate. They are therefore an ideal solution for countries to increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains.
Millets are healthier alternative
Millets are healthier
These nutraceutical crops are rich sources of macronutrients, with higher levels of calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, protein and essential amino acids. These also have a low glycemic index (GI) property which, unlike rice and wheat can help prevent the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes.
In addition, their nutrients can help avert cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve improve gut health.
Millets can help bridge the food gap
In India, millets are grown on about 15 million hectares, with an annual production of 17 million tonnes and contribute 10% to the country’s food grain basket.
- India is the largest producer of millets in the world.
- India’s two varieties of millets namely Pearl Millet (Bajra) and Sorghum (Jowar) together contribute approx 20 per cent in world production.
- India’s Pearl Millet production accounts for 40.51 per cent followed by Sorghum 8.09 per cent in the world production of Millets.
- The major millets producing states in India are Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
- These ten states accounts for around 98 per cent in Millets production in India during the period 2020-21.
- Six states namely Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat accounts for more than 83 per cent share in total millet production.
- Rajasthan contributes 28.61 per cent of the total millet production in India. Multiple varieties of millets are produced in India such as Pearl Millets, Sorghum, Finger Millet, Foxtail, Kodo, Barnyard, Proso, Little Millet and Pseudo Millets like Buckwheat and Amaranths. Pearl millet (Bajra), Sorghum (Jowar) and Finger Millet (Ragi) constitutes the largest share in India’s total production of millets.