There is a need to increase the production of millets by at least 40% as demand for them in the Indian diet is on a constant rise, said Vilas Tonapi, director, Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR).
At a seminar organised in connection with Bengaluru Tech Summit here on Saturday, he said there was a need to expand the areas under the cultivation of millets following a rise in their consumption not only across the country but also overseas.
“We need to up our millets production at least by 40%. Several farm research organisations are working on crop improvement and fortification methods. Interestingly, 14 States in the country are currently on a mission to cultivate millets incrementally. These national and State-level initiatives will bring a significant amount of millets cultivation back to farms and fields,” Mr. Tonapi anticipated.
He said the year 2023 has been declared as the international year of millets and every effort would be made to increase their area of cultivation and consumption in the country. Termed as nutri-cereals, millets are also increasingly finding favour among farmers for being climate-friendly crops that are drought resistant, growing in infertile soil.
Mr. Tonapi said millets were found to be gluten-free with low glycemic index which constitutes good food for people suffering from diabetes. It had also been found that millets were anti-carcinogenic foods and anti-hypertensive and they help prevent obesity and heart diseases, he added.
India currently has around 14 million hectares of land under millets cultivation and produces around 14 million tonnes a year with Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka leading in millet farming. The country grows close to a dozen varieties of millets and widely consumed among them include pearl millet, foxtail millet, sorghum, finger millet, and kodo millet.