MAY 22, 2023

Celebrating International Year of the Millets 2023: A Golden Opportunity for the Organic Millets Industry

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYoM) to raise awareness about the nutritional and environmental benefits of millets, promote research and development, and encourage policy support to facilitate the expansion of the millets value chain. Millets have gained prominence due to their numerous benefits, such as being rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, climate-resilient, and contributing to agrobiodiversity and ecosystem health. In this article, we delve deeper into the organic millets industry, its growth prospects in the context of IYoM 2023.

The Organic Millets Industry: A Brief Overview

Millets are a group of small-seeded, highly nutritious, and climate-resilient cereal crops that have been cultivated for thousands of years. Millets are known for their diverse culinary uses, including as a staple food in many regions of the world. Over the past few decades, millets have gained prominence in the organic food sector due to their numerous benefits:

Nutritional Powerhouses: Millets are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They offer a host of health benefits, including improved digestion, reduced risk of heart disease, and better glycemic control for diabetics.

Climate Resilience: Millets are drought-tolerant and can grow in adverse conditions with minimal inputs, making them ideal for sustainable and organic agriculture. Millet-based cropping systems can also promote soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Biodiversity Conservation: The cultivation of diverse millet varieties contributes to agrobiodiversity and ecosystem health, ensuring long-term food security.

Industry Updates

In light of IYoM 2023, the organic millets industry has witnessed a surge in product development, company initiatives, and Government support.

New Product Development & Launches: Several companies have developed innovative, organic millet-based products catering to a variety of consumer preferences. From breakfast cereals and snack bars to gluten-free baking mixes and traditional millet-based foods, the industry offers a diverse range of products to health-conscious consumers.

Company Initiatives: To promote organic millets, companies have adopted various strategies, such as establishing direct procurement channels with farmers, providing training and support for cultivation, and collaborating with research institutions to develop improved millet varieties and value-added products.

Upcoming Events: Numerous events, workshops, and conferences are being organized to celebrate IYoM 2023, fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration among stakeholders in the organic millets industry. Some notable events include the BIOFACH India Organic Trade Fair, the Global Millet Summit, the Organic & Millets International Trade Fair, Anuga Food Show, Sial Canada, Fancy Foods USA etc.

The Road Ahead

As we celebrate IYoM 2023, the organic millets industry stands at a critical juncture with the potential for exponential growth. To fully leverage this opportunity, concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including policymakers, researchers, farmers, and private sector players, are evident.

Policy Support: Governments has supportive policies that promote organic millets cultivation, such as incentives for farmers, investment in research and development, and the establishment of quality standards and certification systems. For instance, in India, the government has launched a National Millet Mission that aims to increase the productivity and profitability of millets by promoting their cultivation and consumption, providing research and development support, and creating market linkages.

Market Development: Companies and industry associations are working together to create a robust market for organic millets through consumer awareness campaigns, innovative product development, and strengthening supply chain infrastructure. Besides India, other countries also promoting Millets as smart food, for instance, in Europe, the European Association for the Promotion of Cereal Products (CEEREAL) has launched a campaign to promote millets as a healthy and sustainable alternative to wheat and rice.

Research & Development: Research institutions are focusing on developing improved millet varieties, optimizing organic cultivation practices, and exploring new value-added product opportunities. For instance, in India, the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) has developed high-yielding and disease-resistant millet varieties for farmers in several states.

As we celebrate IYoM 2023, the organic millets industry stands at a critical juncture with the potential for exponential growth. By capitalizing on this golden opportunity, we can promote sustainable agriculture, improve nutrition, and contribute to global food security while fostering a vibrant and inclusive organic millets industry. The organic millets industry has a vital role to play in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in promoting sustainable agriculture, reducing poverty, and improving health and well-being. By working together, we can make IYoM 2023 a turning point in the history of millets and pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable food system.

Dr. Tarun Bajaj
Director, APEDA