Yojana Magazine: January 2023 | Millets

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 January Yojana | Millets


  1. International Year of Millets 2023
  2. Millets-Ancient Grains for Healthy Future
  3. Millets in Diet- The Right Approach
  4. India’s Wealth-Millets for Health
  5. Millets Cultivation in North East India
  6. Health Benefits for Lifestyle Diseases
  7. Millets for Pregnant and Lactating Women
  8. Start Up’s Making Millets Popular

1. International Year of Millets 2023


  • United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2023 ‘International Year of Millets’.
  • It is the Prime Minister’s vision and initiative that led to this United Nations Resolution being adopted with support from more than 70 nations across the globe.
  • It will help in creating awareness throughout the world about the significant role of millets in sustainable agriculture and its benefits as a smart and superfood.
  • India is poised to become the global hub for millets with a production of more than 170 lakh tonnes which makes for more than 80% of the millets produced in Asia.
  • The earliest evidence for these grains has been found in the Indus Valley civilisation and was one of the first plants to be domesticated for food. It is grown in about 131 countries and is the traditional traditional food for around 60 crore people in Asia & Africa. 
  • The Government of India has declared to celebrate the International Year of Millets, 2023 to make it a people’s movement so that Indian millets, recipes, and valueadded products are accepted globally.


  • IYM 2023 aims to contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ie SDG, as follows:
    • IYM 2023 aims to contribute to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (Climate action) and SDG 15 (Life on land).
    • SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land): The sustainable cultivation of millets can support climate-resilient agriculture
      • Millets are often referred to as climate-resilient crops because they can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and maintenance, are tolerant or resistant to diseases and pests and are more resilient to climate shocks than other cereals.
      • Including and expanding the production of millets can support the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.
    • SDG 2 (End Hunger): The sustainable production of millets can fight hunger and contribute to food security and nutrition
      • In arid areas, millets are very often the only crops that can be harvested in the dry season and are a crucial part of the household food basket.
      • Millets can help to overcome food scarcity in difficult periods, therefore contributing to the food security and nutrition of vulnerable populations.
      • By providing land cover in arid areas, they reduce further soil degradation and help support biodiversity and sustainable land restoration.
    • SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being): Millets can be an important part of a healthy diet
      • Millets are good sources of minerals, dietary fibre, antioxidants and protein. With a low glycaemic index, they are a good option for people with high-blood sugar.
      • Millets are also gluten-free and an excellent and cost-effective source of iron for iron-deficient diets.
    • SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth): Greater consumption of millets can offer opportunities to smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods
      • The production of millets and the demand for them has declined as other cereals such as wheat, maize or rice became a dietary preference.
      • By promoting millets and regaining market opportunities, additional sources of revenue can be created for smallholders and in the food sector, boosting economic growth.
    • Proper handling of millets is key to maintaining their high quality and nutritional benefits SDG 2 (End Hunger) and SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)
    • SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production): Greater trade in millets can improve the diversity of the global food system
      • Millets, including sorghum, account for less than 3% of the global grains trade. With the need to improve the resilience of global trade and its ability to respond to sudden changes in the foodgrain market, millets are a valuable option to increase output diversity and mitigate risks related to production shocks.


  • The IYM 2023 is an opportunity to raise awareness of, and direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions.
  • It is an occasion to promote the sustainable production of millets while also highlighting their potential to create sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers.

2. Millets-Ancient Grains for Healthy Future


  • Millets have been a part of the Indian food basket for hundreds of years.
  • They are deeply ingrained in our food systems, culture, and traditions.
  • They find mention in religious texts and are a part of many traditional Indian practices. Interactions with elders in the family and farmers throw light on their consumption in older times.
  • In the Indian subcontinent, millets were used as a staple in most households prior to the Green Revolution.


  • There are many old Indian sayings that highlight the climate resilience of millets.
  • Millets also find mention in the Krishna-Sudama meeting in Srimad Bhagwat, a religious text, where on return from Dwarka, Sudama is surprised to find his home resplendent.
  • Kalidasa, in his `Abhijnana Shakuntalam’, has sage Kanva pouring foxtail millet while bidding farewell to Shakuntala in Dushyant’s court, which indicates the auspicious nature attributed to this millet.
  • There is mention of millets in Yajur Veda’s verses.
  • Sushruta in his Samhita classified cereals as dhanya varga, khudhanya varga and samidhanya varga where khudhanya varga included various millets.
  • Kannada poet Kanakdasa personified ragi as the weaker sections of society through his metaphoric creation `Rarnacilaanya Charitre’, which showed its conflict with the ‘mighty’ rice and gave a powerful social message.
  • Kautilya’s Arthashastra has a mention of various millets and their various properties when soaked or boiled.
  • Ain-i-Akbari, written by Abul Fazl, records millets and their cultivating regions.
  • Apart from the above references, cultural customs also reflect the prevalence and usage of millets. Millets are used for fasting purposes, songs sung by women during sowing and harvest times mention millets and in many communities, they were also used to bless the bride and groom during marriage ceremonies.


  • Although these miracle grains were traditionally a part of our food platter across the length and breadth of the country, their presence in our food plates reduced significantly over the years due to a multitude of factors.
  • Socio-economic dynamics resulting from the hardy nature of the crop, relegated them to be the grain of the poor.
  • They could grow without much input and even in the worst of lands. As a result, they were looked down upon.
  • With the growing support for wheat and rice and easy availability, people moved easily to them due to a desire for upward mobility.
  • In fact, in many places millets have been systematically discouraged from cultivation.
    • Kodo Kutki Hatao Soyabean Lagao (Remove Kodo and Little millet and grow Soyabean) was a famous slogan in unified Madhya Pradesh until the carly 2000s directed towards millet farmers and encouraging them to move towards oilseeds.
  • All of these factors led to the steady decline of millets from our diverse food plates.


  • In the post-Covid era, there has been a renewed interest in eating healthy and millets are increasingly finding favour amongst many.
  • The last two years have seen an upswing in the interest and conversation around millets.
  • The Prime Minister of India recently stressed the importance of making millet a future food option due to its health benefits, climate resilience, and potential for food security.


  • There is a significant need to work on awareness and consumption of millets as myths and misconceptions about millets still continue to be widespread.
  • A study assessing Millets and Sorghum Consumption Behaviour in Urban India in 2021′ found that the major reason the respondents did not eat more millets was that it was not eaten at home (40%), followed by reactions such as not liking the taste (22%).
  • In rural India, the challenge continues to be the socio-economic view on consuming millets which discourages widespread consumption.
  • The incidence of gluten intolerance and celiac disease (CD) is on the rise in the European and American markets.
    • Millets  being naturally gluten- free and nutritious are a perfect alternative and the availability of millets on the shelves is slowly increasing.
  • To increase demand and make them a regular food option mission mode campaigning is required which not only encourages people to move towards millets but also counters the myths and misconceptions as well as demystifies their cooking.


  • Government, startups, hotels, chefs, and even home chefs have been instrumental in reviving the interest in millets.
  • With the advent of the International Year of Millets, many more people are joining the movement.
  • At present, production is limited because millets are being grown only in certain pockets. In addition to this, the processing facilities are also limited and largely present in the southern part of the country.
  • At present, production is limited because millets are being grown only in certain pockets. In addition to this, the processing facilities are also limited and largely present in the southern part of the country.
  • To address this, production as well as processing needs to be supported and encouraged in different states to uniformly increase supplies to match the demands and also keep a check on the prices. We can encourage farmers to grow millets by linking them to markets.
  • Unless the cost of production and processing can be brought down, it will be difficult to increase the mass consumption of millets.


  • In order to make this sustainable and truly manifest the spirit of the International Year of Millets, it needs to become a mass movement. IYM 2023 places the agenda of millet promotion on an international stage.
  • Millets will now re-enter the food platters both nationally and internationally. However behavioural change takes time.
  • It has taken us many years to forget eating millets and we need to make sure that they are not just seen as a fad.
  • To give them their rightful & continued place in the food basket, concerted & sincere efforts need to be made by all actors in the ecosystem.

3. Millets in Diet – The Right Approach


  • The millets have been an integral part of our culture and are the original Indian superfoods, which are native to the land, can be eaten in multiple ways, have therapeutic benefits and are a part of the folklore.
  • If you want to make a serious effort to include millets in your diet, and you must do so, you should do it the right way.
  • In this chapter some approaches are suggested to make millet part of our diet in a right way.


  • Our traditional eating practices put a lot of focus on eating food as per the season. Here is a quick guide about which millets work best for which season:
    • Bajra and Makai are for the winter: eat them with jaggery and ghee
    • Jowar is better for summer: eat it with chutney
    • Ragi/Nachni is eaten year-round, but especially during rains, and can even be turned into a dosa, laddoo, porridge, etc.
    • The lesser-known millets are usually linked to change of season, mostly tied to festivals. A few examples of such millets are raajgira, samo, kuttu, and mandua.


  • Apart from being inexpensive and easier to grow, they are a rich source of many vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Some of these are:
    • Niacin, a type of Vitamin B found in millets is useful in energy production, and nerve health and keeps the digestive tract healthy. If you have food intolerances, this is very helpful.
    • The magnesium, Zinc, and fibre found in millets make it an excellent food for blood sugar regulation, especially for PCOD and Diabetes.
    • Folic acid helps with iron assimilation and improves skin, health, and fertility.
    • Calcium, iron, protein, fibre, and other minerals are abundant in millets.
    • The cereal primarily contains unsaturated fat, which has a low-fat content.
    • The absence of gluten makes it simple to digest. Given its lower glycemic response or reduced capacity to spike blood sugar levels, it helps diabetics maintain blood sugar levels.
    • Millets are one of the most nutrient-dense cereals and also aid in maintaining bone health, decreasing blood cholesterol, regulating anemia, and keeping weight under control.


  • Right food combinations ensure that the right ingredients come together and make digestion and nutrient assimilation easier.
  • Combining millets with pulses, spices, fats, etc., ensures that limiting amino acids are compensated for, protein quality/digestibility is improved and the effect of anti-nutrients like phytates, tannins, trypsin, etc., is reduced.
  • Millets that are particularly hard to digest, like Bajra should preferably be taken with a dollop of makhan (white butter) or a tsp extra of ghee, and never without jaggery.


  • Eat millets in all its forms.
  • Don’t eat multigrain as if one grain is  good, many are not necessarily better.
  • Don’t replace all grains with  millets.


  • Moving away from traditional foods reduces farming of traditional foods, which in turn has an adverse effect on soil health and ecology, putting not just our health but our entire future at risk. Bring back the millets on plate.

4. Millets Cultivation in North East India


  • Millets are often grown in tropical and subtropical regions at an altitude of 2,100 metres. 8-10 degree Celsius is the required minimum temperature for germination.
  • These crops can tolerate a certain level of soil alkalinity and adapt well to a variety of soil types, from extremely poor to very fertile.
  • Sandy, loamy, and alluvial soils with good drainage are the best types of soil for them.
  • At the onset of monsoon, land should be ploughed deeply with a soil-turning plough. For effective germination and crop establishment, fine tilth is crucial.
  • Its cultivation in Jhum field is ideal during the months of April and May.
  • The ideal growth temperature range for millets is between 26-29° C for optimum production and good crop yield.
  • It is grown in regions with rainfall between 500 and 900 millimetres.


  • The environment was greatly worsened by the 1960s Green Revolution, which used modern farming techniques, high-yielding wheat and rice varieties, and a lot of fertilisers and pesticides.
  • Water bodies were poisoned and agricultural land was extensively destroyed as a result of the use of pesticides and the quick succession of crops without giving the soil enough time to restore its nutrient quality.
  • In recent years, this issue has gotten worse as the impact of climate change has been more widespread. Agricultural communities all over India have been hit by the abrupt rise in temperature and the ensuing water constraint.
  • For example, wheat production in Madhya Pradesh, which is known as India’s “Wheat Bowl,” has been harmed because of repeated heat waves.
  • This is where sustainable organic farming and millet cultivation comes into play.


  • Millets do not require chemical fertilisers and they grow better in dry conditions without chemical fertilisers. Therefore, most farmers grow it with farmyard manure in purely ecological conditions.
  • In organic millet farms, nutrient management should efficiently supply crop's nutrient needs, prevent nutrient depletion, and maintain or increase soil productivity without disproportionate nutrient losses.
  • The various chemical, physical, and biological factors of the soil influence availability of nutrients in the soil and their interaction with the crop growth.
  • Crop performance is a yardstick for several soil parameters and is regarded as the best indicator for a measure of soil productivity.
  • Millet farmers frequently succeed in enhancing the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil for sustained productivity by using techniques like:
    • Using organic material, such as compost, vermicompost, farm yard manure, and bio- fertilisers, to preserve soil organic matter and deliver nutrients.
    • Using cover crops to recycle soil nutrients and biologically fix nitrogen from the atmosphere.
    • Planting green manure legumes in situ or using green leaf manuring and incorporating them into the soil.
    • Intercropping or growing multiple crops simultaneously.
    • Rotation of crops.
    • Management of crop residues.


  • Shifting cultivation, also known as “Slash and burn” or “Swidden,” is a type of farming used by tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh. This farming approach permits the production of two or three annual crops before abandoning the field until the trees have recovered enough to permit a second filling.
  • The majority of the crops planted on lands under shifting agriculture are millets, specifically finger millet, small millet, foxtail millet, proso, kodo millet, pearl millet, and sorghum. In addition to millets, valuable commercial crops are grown, including red gram, horse gram, castor, plantain, and turmeric.
  • Since they don’t use any chemical pesticides or fertilisers, tribal farmers don’t need to take any action to control pests and diseases. By default, all aspects of Jhum production fall under organic farming.


  • Manures:
    • In organic farming, applying manure to the millet crop is frequently a beneficial source of nutrients.
    • However, because millet crops extract more nitrogen and potassium than phosphorus, using manures to fulfil all of the crop's nutritional requirements could result in an excess of some nutrients, such as phosphorus.
  • Compost:
    • By using biological processes in under- regulated settings, composting is a technique that transforms organic wastes into organic fertilisers with increased nutrient concentrations while also reducing the bulk of organic materials through the loss of water and carbohydrates during decomposition. C
    • omposting also often kills some diseases and weed seedlings, making it easier to handle than bulk organic material.
  • Cover crops:
    • Cover crops can enhance the microbial activities, nitrogen cycling, and physical characteristics of the soil. In addition, cover crops can recover leftover nitrogen mineralised from soil and organic amendments before it is lost by volatilisation, runoff, or leaching.
  • Green Manures: Green manure is the term for uncomposted, green plant matter used as manure.
  • Crop rotation: Crop productivity, nutrient availability, insect control, nutrient usage efficiency, and soil physical qualities can all be improved through crop rotation.


  • Zan:
    • The most favoured porridge recipe among the monpa tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • The dish is made using millet flour.
    • They eat this for breakfast in the morning. It is nourishing and filling.
  • Apong:
    • Apong and Madua Apong are two popular beverages made in Arunachal Pradesh using rice and millet, respectively, through an unrestrained fermentation process.
    • Among the tribes, Mirung (Millet) is used to make Madua Apong, a dark red organic wine.
    • The Adi and Nyishi Tribes frequently brew this.


  • Millets are said to be the forerunner of the evergreen revolution and therefore, also can be referred to as Miracle Grains and a boon to the region.

5. India’s Wealth – Millets for Health


  • India produces more than 170 lakh tonnes of millets per year and is the largest producer of millets in the world; accounting for 20% of global production and 80% of Asia's production.
  • India's average yield of millets (1239 kg/hectare) is also higher than global-average yield of 1229 kg/hectare.
  • Major millet crops grown in India and their percentage share of production are Pearl Millet (Bajra) – 61% share, Jowar (Sorghum)-27%, and Finger Millet (Mandua/Ragi) – 10%.


  • Millets, popularly called “Mota Anaj” in Hindi, are a collective group of small-seeded annual grasses that are grown as grain crops, primarily on marginal land in dry areas of temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical regions.
  • In India, millets can be clubbed into major, minor, and pseudo categories.
    • Major Millets: Sorghum (Jowar), Pearl Millet (Bajra), Finger Millet (Ragi/Mandua)
    • Minor Millets: Foxtail Millet (Kangani/Kakun), Proso Millet (Cheena), Kodo Millet, Barnyard Millet (Sawa/Sanwa/ Jhangora), Little Millet (Kutki)
    • Pseudo Millets: Buck-wheat (Kuttu) and Amaranth (Chaulai)
  • The top five states producing Millets are Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana.


  • Climate-friendly crop:
    • Millets are resilient to climate change as they are pest free, adapted to a wide range of temperatures and moisture regimes, and demand less input of chemical fertilisers to grow; thus making them bio-diverse and climate-smart crops.
    • These crops have lowcarbon and water footprints.
    • Requiring minimum rainfall for their growth, they can even sustain in drought-prone areas.
    • Millets are C4 Carbon sequestrating crops contributing to the reduction of CO, in the atmosphere besides being water efficient.
  • Viable options for small farmers:
    • Due to the low investment needed for the production of millets, they millets prove to be a sustainable and viable income source for small and marginal farmers.
  • High in nutrition and health benefits:
    • Millet are known to be a storehouse of nutrition as they are good sources of calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, vitamin, iron, folate, carbohydrates, micronutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals with nutraceutical properties.
  • Economic and food security:
    • Once known as the 'poor man's food grain', millet have been cheaper in price in comparison to other food grains.
    • Under India's National Food Security Mission the area, production of millets have increased.
      • Over the years, the production of millets has increased from 14.52 million tonnes (2015-16) to 17.96 million tonnes in 2020- 21 (Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare).
    • Its exports are increasing exponentially as the demand for millets is increasing at a fast rate worldwide.
    • With the growing demand for millets, it is creating more business opportunities for all stakeholders.


  • The Government of India has initiated the revival of millets in the past few years and declared 2018 as the “National Year of Millets” to raise awareness about its health benefits and boost millet production.
  • They are labelled as “Nutri-cereals” due to their high nutrition quotient.
  • Poshan Abhiyan, also called National Nutrition Mission was launched in March, 2018 with an objective to reduce malnutrition in the country.
  • Poshan 2.0 was launched in 2021 to tackle malnutrition and leverage traditional knowledge systems and popularise the incorporation of millets in local recipes in order to enhance quality of supplementary nutrition.


  • The Government has embarked on a nationwide Jan Andolan to enhance awareness and highlight the nutritional benefits of millets, positioning it as a modern-day healthy food that is easy to cook and quick to prepare.
  • Various creative campaigns on several forums such as radio, print, social media, offline events, and activities are being taken up to break the stigma of millet being the “food of the poor”, showcasing it as a superfood, combating misinformation, reviving lost recipes, thus making it as an essential part of the mainstream food basket.
  • Millets have been showcased in various reputed events like India International Trade Fair, Dubai Expo and Surajkund Mela, etc.
  • Over 500 startups are working in millet value chain while the Indian Institute on Millet Research has incubated 250 startups under RKVY-RAFTAAR.
  • More than Rs. 6.2 crores has been disbursed to over 66 startups while about 25 startups have been approved for further funding.
  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is actively spreading awareness of the health benefits of the miracle crop by celebrating “Recipe Ravivar” every Sunday on social media platforms where each month is dedicated to a specific variety of millet.
    • Eat Right Melas and Walkathons have been organised across the country.
  • The Government of India has launched a set of seven sutras in the run-up to IYM 2023 and has allocated different government departments for the same.
    • The seven sutras outline areas in the enhancement of production/productivity, nutrition and health benefits, value addition, processing, and recipe development, entrepreneurship/startup/collective development, awareness creation-branding, labelling and promotion, international outreach, and policy interventions for mainstreaming.
  • The Government also plans to establish Centres of Excellence on millets across the length and breadth of the country and link industries with these centres.


  • Due to various activities and efforts of different Departments and Ministries of Government of India and the states and UTs, momentum has kickstarted for popularising millets and turning it into a revolutionary movement.
  • In line with Prime Minister's vision for a healthier India, at a time when the country is entering “Azadi ka Amrit Kaal”, there is a strong focus on Jan Bhagidari or people's movement to bring the spotlight on this superfood and for bringing this ancient food to the centrestage.

6. Health Benefits for Lifestyle Diseases


  • Millets are considered wonder foods. With their high levels of fibre content, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, they can help fight many modern-day, lifestyle diseases.
  • Important amino acids enhance millets' nutritional value.
  • However, the nutritive and medicinal potentials of bioactive chemicals found in millets are largely unexplored, and a thorough evaluation of existing evidence in the literature is lacking.
  • Millets include many bioactive principles that have been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk, diabetes, aging, and even cancer.
  • This chapter illustrates recent improvements in nutritional characteristics, processing methods, and their impact on lowering anti-nutritional factors and increasing nutrient bioavailability, as well as the possible health advantages of millets.


  • Due to their low carbohydrate-fibre ratio they can also be useful in many lifestyle diseases like cardiac, diabetes mellitus, and some kinds of cancer (Table 1).

  • Consumption of dietary fibre lowers the absorption of glucose maintaining blood glucose levels and is thus useful in Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes (NIDDM). Moreover, fibre also binds cholesterol, thus protecting from heart disease.
  • Dietary fibre contributes to fecal bulk and along with it increased fecal mobility and fermentation of contents all contribute to the prevention of colon cancer.
  • Millets are also 'nutritional supplements' that have phytochemicals such as flavonoids, saponins, tannins such phenols, tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and terpenoids and anti-nutrients that are essential for preserving good health and having a significant impact on the treatment of chronic illnesses.
  • They include vital amino acids, carbs, lipids, fibres, folic acid, vitamins like thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
  • The dietary items made from millet products feed the body and guard against several illnesses including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, etc.


  • India's consumption pattern has been considerably impacted by modernisation, leading to decreased consumption of some grains like millets and increased consumption of foods derived from animals, such as oil, refined sugar, fat, and alcohol.
  • Around 71% of all fatalities worldwide are now attributed to non-communicable illnesses, a burden that has escalated as a result of this consumption pattern.
  • Additionally, the current pattern of intake is crucial in causing oxidative stress.
  • The imbalance between the production and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cells and tissues often leads to oxidative stress.
  • Furthermore, ROS have a role in the development of Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes (NIDDM), mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, and DNA damage.
  • Cancer is one of several illnesses caused by damaged DNA.
  • Increase in oxidative stress can significantly contribute to inflammatory diseases like arthritis, vasculitis, adult respiratory disease syndrome, and muscular dystrophy, as well as to AIDS and other conditions.


  • Impact of Millets on Diabetes Mellitus & Heart Disorders:
    • Millet is an excellent source of leucine, slowly digesting carbohydrates (and minerals), blunting the otherwise sudden increase in postprandial glucose level, thus making it a nutritious food for diabetes.
    • Millets enriched in niacin reduce Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglyceride levels and correct lipoprotein abnormalities. Furthermore, millets retard the absorption of dietary
    • Thus, millets-rich foods are suggested as one of the means to reduce the risk of heart
  • Impact of Millets on Cancer:
    • Millet grains include phenolic components such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins, making them anti-nutrients that lower the incidence of colon and breast cancer in animals.
    • An in-vivo study found that adding foxtail millet to one’s diet promotes the activation of the gut receptor, which in turn aids in the treatment of colon cancer linked to colitis. As a result of the study, it was discovered that millet-based diets aided in suppressing the STAT-3 signalling pathway.
    • In cancer cells, unregulated cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and apoptosis evasion are all crucially influenced by the STAT transcription factor family.
  • Impact of Millets on Brain Disorders:
    • Several studies have shown that excess fat consumption in the human diet can not only
      increase risk of heart diseases but recent epidemiological research has revealed that
      dementia risk is also increased by a high-fat, high-calorie diet.
    • Due to the fact that an 1-IFD has been shown to generate oxidative brain dysfunction may
      result from stress in the brain. Additionally, oxidative stress is reportedly a catalyst and
      aggravating factor for neurodegenerative conditions like Addison’s disease (AD).
    • Increased oxidative stress also stimulates proinflammatory factor production, which results
      in inflammation in the brain, which can cause dementia.


  • Millets due to their low carbohydrate:fibre ratio, high antioxidants, and other effects are useful in lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
  • In terms of production and climatic sensitivity, millets may be even more important than staple grains and health-wise they may be preferable to other cereals because they contain vital amino acids (such as leucine, isoleucine, valine, and phenylalanine), minerals (calcium, iron, and zinc), vitamins, phytochemicals, antioxidant qualities but most importantly fibre.

7. Millets for Pregnant and Lactating Women


  • Millet-based foods have a positive impact on the nutritional status of pregnant women.
  • It is recommended that millets may be incorporated into the diet of pregnant women in the form of supplementary food.
  • The millet-based complementary food products are very nutritious for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Nutrition wise, millets are free from gluten and rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibres that are important for the functioning of a healthy body


  • Pregnancy is a physiological condition with an increased demand for nutrients to promote the growth and development of foetus with changes in weight, plasma and blood volume.
  • Anaemia caused by iron deficiency is one of the major health problems in pregnant women due to inadequate intake of iron-rich foods.
  • Similarly, lactating mothers also suffer from iron deficiency anemia due to blood loss in the post-natal period.
  • It is important to provide complete nutrition among pregnant women and lactating mothers to fulfill recommended calories, proteins, iron and calcium.
  • A study indicated that taking millet-based foods in diet during pre-natal and post-natal period play an important role in improving the nutritional status of pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • The millet-based supplementary food products are very nutritious for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Millet milk malt is prepared from the flour of various millets, jaggery and milk powder. Ragi cutlets are prepared from Ragi (Finger millets) flour which is a rich source of protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and dietary fibres.
  • One of the many nutrient-rich grains for pregnant women is Pearl millets known as Bajra. It is an excellent source of iron which helps in improving haemoglobin levels in pregnant and lactating mothers. It is also rich in dietary fibres, antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, copper and Vitamin.
  • Studies show that millet-based foods contribute to improving the Body Mass Index (BMI) in pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Lactating mothers are also advised to consume Ragi to increase the production of breast milk.
  • Kodo millets are highly nutritious. They are gluten-free, easy to digest, and rich in phytochemical constituents, antioxidants and dietary fibre.


  • Millets are highly nutritious and easy to digest, proving to be superfoods for pregnant women.

8. Start Up’s Making Millets Popular


  • Several startups are making the road ahead for coarse grains smoother, quite literally. They are bringing innovative products and popularising millets across the country.
  • Growing health awareness, the easy availability of these products online, and their consumer-friendly preparation have increased their popularity and consumption.
  • Also, big reputed companies engaged in making food products are offering more nutritious options by mixing coarse grains in their food products.


  • Efforts of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR):
    • According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), more than a thousand startups are working on coarse grains in the country.
    • Some of these have become fully functional, and some are in the process of launching their products in the market.
    • ICAR's Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR) aims to make these entrepreneurs successful by introducing their brands in the market keeping in mind the International Year of Millets.
    • IIMR has set up a technology incubator NutriHub with the help of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to promote millets.
    • Here, people are trained for startups. Along with this, startups are also provided with the facility to develop their products and assess their quality.
  • Startups are provided grants of upto Rs 25 lakh under the Government's Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY-RAFTAAR).
  • The Central Government started a Millet Startup Innovation Challenge aims to last year.
    • This initiative encourage young minds to find technical and business solutions to the existing problems in the millet ecosystem.
    • The three best startup solutions will be awarded seed money of Rs 1 crore each.
  • On India's initiative, the United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. It was adopted by a UN resolution led by India and supported by over 70 countries.
    • Millets are grown in about 131 countries and are still the traditional food of about 600 million people in Asia and Africa.
  • Many states have included Millet in the National Nutrition Mission and Mid-Day Meal Scheme. Many startups are contributing towards the millets.
  • The Government is also enabling startups for the export promotion of value-added products like noodles, pasta, breakfast-cereal mix, biscuits, cookies, snacks, and sweets in the Ready to Eat (RTE) and Ready to Serve (RTS) categories.
    • For this, the Ministry of Commerce has made necessary policy amendments.


  • To increase demand and make them a regular food option, mission mode campaigning is required which not only encourages people to move towards millets but also counters the myths and misconceptions as well as demystifies their cooking. Startups surely are helpful to fulfill these objectives.

Additional Information


  • The majority of millet is produced in Africa, followed by Asia.
  • India is the largest producer of millet, followed by Niger and China. Other major millet-producing countries include Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal.
  • In India, millet production has been on the rise in recent years. India is one of the largest producers of millets and Indian farmers have been increasingly planting millet as a drought-resistant crop.
  • The Indian government has also been promoting millet production as part of its National Food Security Mission.
  • As a result of these factors, millet production in India is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
  • The following graph depicts the production trends of millets in India:


  • The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for various kinds of cereal in the country is fixed by the government. The Government also procures food grains on MSP.
  • It motivates farmers to grow that crop as it fetches a reasonably good price.
  • Till some time back, the MSP for coarse cereals was very low. But today, it is more than wheat and rice.
  • Today, MSP is fixed for 22 cereals, pulses, and oilseeds, of which three major coarse cereals are Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi.
  • In the Budget of 2018-19, the Central Government announced fixing MSP for other cereals and coarse cereals with a minimum profit of 50 per cent.
    • That is, 50 per cent of the cost of the crop will be kept as profit for the farmers.
    • The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) makes this assessment.
    • Following this, a record MSP was fixed in 2018-19 for Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi, the three coarse cereals grown in abundance in the country.
  • Many central and state government agencies also procure millets on MSP. It fetches a fair deal to the farmers. Due to this initiative, farmers also show interest in growing these neglected crops.


  • The common element in all sectors of food processing is the conversion of raw material into a product of higher value.
  • In some situations, the processing is a one-step conversion of raw material to a consumer product.
  • The history of food processing emphasises the role of establishing and maintaining microial safety in foods, as well as the desire to establish and maintain economic shelf-life.
  • All developments in food processing have similar and common origins.
    • One common aspect is achieving and maintaining microbial safety in the product.
    • These processing methods are used worldwide as they improve the digestibility and nutritional quality of the grains.

Overview of Millet Processing:

  • Millet processing involves the partial separation and modification of the three major constituents of the millet grain:
    • the germ,
    • the starch-containing endosperm, and
    • the protective pericarp.
  • Various traditional methods of processing are still widely used, particularly in those parts of the semi–arid tropics where millet is grown primarily for human consumption.
  • Most traditional processing techniques are laborious, monotonous, and manual.
  • To some extent, the methods that are used have been developed to make traditional foods to suit local tastes and are appropriate for these purposes.
  • Traditional techniques that are commonly used include:
    • decortication (usually by pounding followed by winnowing or sometimes sifting),
    • malting,
    • fermentation,
    • roasting,
    • flaking, and
    • pounding.
  • These methods are mostly labor-intensive and give a poor-quality product.

Modern Processing Methods:

  • Processing methods have been either fine-tuned or developed by the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) using modern equipment to prepare quality processed products like dehulled millet, semolina or suji, flakes, extruded products (vermicelli and pasta), biscuits, millet-rich multigrain roti, and millet-rich multigrain flour to improve the nutritional quality.
  • Food processing operations are undertaken to add value to food commodities after production.
  • The main purpose of processing is to minimise the qualitative and quantitative deterioration of the material during post-harvest.

The millet processing operations mainly involve:

  • Primary Processing:
    • Purification of raw materials by removing foreign matter, and immature grain and making it into a suitable form for secondary processing through grading, destining, and dehulling.
    • The bulk operations of these processes can be done mechanically.
    • Primary processing of the grain is the removal of impurities, foreign contaminants, and glumes from the grain that are necessary to improve the storage capacity and consumer acceptability for usage.
  • Secondary Processing:
    • Processing of primary processed raw material into a product which is suitable for food uses or consumption such as Ready-To-Eat (RTE) and Ready-To-Cook (RTC) products, which minimises the cooking time and makes it a convenient food.

Importance of Processing Intervention:

  • Lesser-availability of RTE and RTS millet products in market hinders consumption.
  • This scenario was found to be proportional to the increase in production expenditure.
  • Increased income is accompanied by increased consumption of wheat and rice, as products made from these cereals are easy to prepare and have better keeping quality.
  • At the same time, people have increased their tendency to eat a greater variety of foods.
  • The prospects of technological change could perhaps change the scenario for improved production and utilisation of millet.

Processing and Value-Added Products from Millets:

  • Value addition in food processing has a high degree of interdependence with forward and backward linkages and hence can play an important role in accelerating economic development.
  • Value addition has many consumer benefits such as simple, low-cost processing and packaging technologies which can improve the shelf life and storage quality of food and preserve many of the health-promoting compounds.
    • For example, in India, sorghum is mainly grown in the rabi or dry season, which produces white bold grain, which is free from blemishes. The grain is highly prized for processing. Sorghum grown in the kharif (wet season) has staining and molds that deteriorates the quality of food.
    • In this context, IIMR had screened around 430 genotypes (germ-plasm lines, elite lines and released hybrids/varieties) for various physical and chemical parameters.

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