Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal said that India must strive to become the global capital of millets.

While addressing the gathering at ‘Millets-Smart Nutritive Food’ Conclave in New Delhi, Minister Goyal said that this conclave and the first international buyer-seller meet on millets being held on the sidelines of the Conclave would help prepare the country for the ‘International Year of Millets 2023’.

He added that the UN had accepted 2023 as the international year of millets at India’s request which was endorsed by over 70 countries.

Last year, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution tabled by India along with Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia and Senegal to mark 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets’.

Goyal referred to India’s presidency of the G20 and the presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and said that this mantle of leadership clearly reflected India’s growing stature on the world stage.

Goyal pointed out that India had celebrated its Year of Millets in 2018 and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had consistently promoted millets as a food that will help take nutrition to the remotest parts of India and the world. The world has accepted several such initiatives championed by India from Yoga to Millets, a clear reflection of the Prime Minister’s global leadership and the success of his bid to promote the India story across the world, he opined.

The Minister observed that the call for ‘LIFE-Lifestyle for Environment’ given by the Prime Minister had also found resonance all over the world, making it realize that it must adopt a much more sustainable lifestyle. He underscored that the world has been looking up to the leadership of PM Modi to resolve significant global problems, be it climate change, post-pandemic economic recovery or the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“PM Modi is working towards collective global good and resolving global problems and millets is one such initiative that will solve the global problem of malnutrition and take affordable food to parts of the world where we face problems of malnutrition or food security”, he said.

The Minister lauded APEDA for the remarkable work it had done so far and expressed confidence that its efforts would promote Indian millets all over the world and link India with international markets.

Goyal termed millet and ‘nature’s gift to mankind’ because of its tremendous nutritive value. Quoting PM Modi, the Minister said that “millets or coarse grains have been a part of India’s agriculture, culture and civilization since ancient times” and added that millets are both climate-friendly and capable of combating lifestyle diseases. He spoke of the value of millets as fodder and said that millets had truly multidimensional benefits.

The Minister called for many more such international buyer-seller meets food festivals, and culinary competitions around millets and opined that millets could also be made a part of the mid-day meal program.

The Minister pointed out there were around 250 startups being supported by the centre working on millets and that the Indian Institute of Millets Research has been incubating startups on millets and suggested that the Indian Institute of Packaging could be roped in to innovate and improve the packaging of millets and millet products.

The Minister asked that ‘NOURISH’ be used as our call to action for promoting millets. ‘N’ for ‘newer markets and destinations. ‘O’ for the need to promote ‘organic methods’ of millet cultivation to make it more valuable and acceptable globally. ‘U’ for protection and GI tagging of ‘unique varieties’ of millets. ‘R’ for ‘research on millets’ to develop faster growing, tastier varieties of millet and to expand market potential. ‘I’ for more ‘industry involvement’ in the product, market and value chain developments. ‘S’ for ‘standards and ‘sustainability’ to ensure high-quality millets and millet products. ‘H’ for ‘home markets’ and ‘high productivity’.

The Minister said that we must work together to mainstream the millet story and make millet globally acceptable to solve problems of malnutrition and starvation that many parts of the world continue to face.

In his address, Secretary of Commerce Department, Sunil Barthwal said that many of the millet-related startups came into this business after PM Modi declared that 2023 would year of Millets. He added that several more buyer-seller meets would be organized in India and abroad in the time to come to promote millets and millet products.

Pointing out that this was a new beginning where processors were directly procuring from farmers, Barthwal said that this would benefit both farmers and startups. “I am sure the culture of growing and consuming millets will increase over the next few years,” he observed.

Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Manoj Ahuja, Additional Secretay, Department of Commerce, S Srinivas, Chairman, APEDA Angamuthu and senior government officials and other dignitaries were present on the occasion. (ANI)