Ranchi, Feb 1: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday during the Union Budget 2023-24 highlighted the importance of coarse grains or millets as means of sustainable cultivation that can raise the income of small farmers in arid regions besides providing food and nutritional security globally. She commented that millet has been an integral part of Indian diets for centuries.
Sharing his views while talking to a Lagatar correspondent in this regard, Dr Arun Kumar, Principal Investigator, All India Coordinated Research Project on Small Millets, Birsa Agricultural University, Ranchi, said, “Millets are climate resilient and they not only have health benefits but are also sustainable and have environmental benefits. Millets have several nutritional values as it has several minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres. Also, research has proven that millets can also be grown in adverse conditions.”
Dr Kumar further said, “The millets can be grown in areas facing droughts as they require minimum amounts of irrigation and retain all nutrients and minerals as it is climate resilient. These can even be grown in gravel lands. Along with this, they take very little time to grow and be ready for harvesting, as a result of which, in Rabi, farmers can grow two crops in one season. For instance, Little Millet takes around 60-70 days, while Bajra is ready within 70-80 days for harvesting.”
Keeping all these things in mind, PM Modi proposed that the United Nations declared 2023 the International Year of Millets to raise awareness and increase the production and consumption of millets. This was approved by over 70 nations, as a result of which, the UN declared that 2023 will be the International Year of Millets.
ALSO READ: Budget focuses on 7 priorities, ‘saptrishi guiding us through Amrit Kaal’: FM Sitharaman
Regarding the benefits growing millets provide to a piece of land, Kumar said that research is still undergoing regarding this, however, we are also planning to work on using its microbes to make other plants drought resistant. Talking about husks of the millet, he said that these can be used as fodder for animals as it also has several benefits.
Explaining his role in millet production in Jharkhand, Kumar said that he is focused on making varieties of millets that will take less than or around 100 days to be ready to be harvested. He said, “At present, BAU has released three varieties of millets that can be harvested within 110-120 days. Furthermore, he said research is also on producing light-coloured millets to increase popularity.
Earlier, talking about the ‘Shree Anna’, the FM said, “We are the largest producer and second largest exporter of ‘Shree Anna’ in the world and grow several types of ‘Shree Anna’ such as jowar, ragi, bajra, kuttu, ramdana, kangni, kutki, kodo, cheena, and sama. These have a number of health benefits and have been an integral part of our food for centuries. I acknowledge with pride the huge service done by small 7 farmers in contributing to the health of fellow citizens by growing these ‘Shree Anna’.”
She further announced that the Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad will be supported as the Centre of Excellence for sharing best practices, research and technologies at the international level in an effort to make India a global hub for ‘Shree Anna’.
Notably, earlier PM Narendra Modi had also stated, “India is at the forefront of popularizing Millets, whose consumption furthers nutrition, food security and welfare of farmers.”