MAY 22, 2023

Embracing Millets: India’s Bold Move Towards a Sustainable and Nutritious Future

India is currently in a unique position, holding the G20 Presidency while simultaneously championing the cause of millets as the crops of the future. This year, 2023, has been designated as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations, thanks to a proposal from the Indian government that garnered support from over 72 countries.
With the world slowly embracing veganism, protein-based diets, and health-friendly food choices, the popularity of millets has the potential to uplift the economies of millet-producing countries, many of which are currently struggling.

Millets are a group of small-seeded cereal crops that have been an essential food source for thousands of years. They are highly drought-tolerant, capable of growing in low fertile lands, and suitable for production in marginal land in dry areas of temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions. These nutri-cereals have been an integral part of the human diet, and their resurgence is critical to addressing various food challenges of the 21st century.

India has been actively promoting millets through various initiatives, including hosting millet festivals and incorporating millets into meal plans for G20 meetings. The aim is to raise awareness about the numerous health benefits of these crops and encourage dignitaries from visiting nations to include millets in their diets. Millets are both soluble and insoluble and are gluten-free, making them a suitable food choice for those with gluten-related disorders.

They are rich in dietary fiber contributing to digestive health. Millets also prebiotics which is good for immune system.


The Indian government’s plan for the International Year of Millets includes promoting millet production, encouraging millet consumption, supporting research and development, and creating a global millet network. Moreover, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has highlighted the importance of “millet preneurs” – small businesses and startups that are creating innovative products using millets. India’s efforts to promote millets during its G20 presidency have the potential to significantly impact food security, farmers’ livelihoods, and global health. By promoting the cultivation and consumption of millets, India aims to improve food security in regions prone to drought, enhance farmers’ livelihoods by providing a sustainable and profitable source of income, address malnutrition through nutrient-rich food choices, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting less carbon-intensive crops.

As the world faces unprecedented challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the impending climate crisis, and widespread poverty and malnutrition, the promotion of millets as a climate-resilient food system can provide much-needed relief. India’s bold move to put millets on the global agenda serves as a reminder that sustainable and nutritious food choices are crucial for securing the health of our planet and its inhabitants.

These initiatives will not only help India achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but will also serve as a model for other countries facing similar challenges. The promotion of millets has environmental benefits.

They go in shorter duration with no water requirements. They are resilent to climate change and not only are source of food but also fodder, forage energy.

One of the significant aspects of India’s push for millets is the focus on research and development. This will enable scientists to identify innovative ways to improve the yield and quality of crops, making them more sustainable and economically viable.

Furthermore, creating a global millet network will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices, accelerating the adoption of millets worldwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for resilient food systems that can withstand global shocks. Climate change, population growth, and dwindling resources are putting immense pressure on the world’s food supply millets, with their inherent resilience, can play a crucial role in addressing these challenges.

Furthermore, by providing affordable and nutritious food options, millets can help combat the rising rates of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases that are prevalent across the globe.

Millets have been an integral part of traditional diets in India, Africa, and parts of Asia. However, with the rise of industrialized agriculture, the focus has shifted to more popular crops like rice and wheat. This has led to a decline in the cultivation and consumption of millets, despite their numerous benefits. By placing millets at the forefront of global discussions, India is taking a crucial step in reviving these ancient grains and reintroducing them into the modern food system.

The ongoing climate crisis presents an urgent need for solutions that not only address immediate concerns but also lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future. Millets, with their remarkable ability to withstand harsh growing conditions, can be an essential part of these efforts. By promoting millets as a climate-resilient food source, India is demonstrating a proactive approach to tackling the pressing challenges of our time.

Moreover, the Indian government’s push for millets coincides with a growing global interest in plant-based diets and sustainable food choices. As more people embrace veganism and look for alternative protein sources, millets can fill a critical gap in the market. Their high protein content and diverse range of nutrients make them an ideal addition to any diet, and their gluten-free nature ensures that they cater to a wide range of dietary preferences and needs.

As the world grapples with the repercussions of the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and other global challenges, it is more important than ever to prioritize food security and nutrition. By promoting millets, India is making a significant contribution to this effort and setting an example for other nations to follow.

India’s push to promote millets during its G20 presidency and throughout the International Year of Millets represents a vital step towards a more sustainable and nutritious future.

By highlighting the numerous benefits of millets, from improving food security and addressing malnutrition to enhancing farmers’ livelihoods and mitigating the effects of climate change, India is leading the charge in promoting this highly versatile and sustainable crop. By doing so, the country is not only creating opportunities for its own citizens but also helping to shape global food systems for the better.

As we collectively face the challenges of the 21st century, the promotion of millets offers a promising path towards achieving food and planetary security, and India’s leadership in this area is a testament to its commitment to creating a healthier and more sustainable world.