A two-day Millet Mahotsav was organized by the ministry of food processing industries at Agra, Uttar Pradesh, from 3-4 March 2023. The event was inaugurated by the minister of state for law & justice, Prof. SP Singh Baghel. Several dignitaries, including the additional secretary of the ministry of food processing industries, Minhaj Alam, were also present on the occasion.
During his inaugural address, SP Singh Baghel applauded prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to set the Minimum Support Price for Millets higher than Wheat as it would encourage farmers to adopt millet cultivation, especially in the regions where there is a shortage of water. Baghel stated that the consistent efforts of prime minister Narendra Modi led to the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets and has put India to be at the forefront of championing this initiative and building a strong name for Millets at the global level.
Baghel referred to the International Year of Millets as the time for Krishi Antyodaya (Upliftment of Farmers). He said that Millet is often perceived to be associated with a poverty-based lifestyle, and there is a need to create awareness to change this perception. The minister, who is also a member of parliament from Agra, expressed his gratitude towards the ministry of food processing industries for the initiative of Millet Mahotsav and for selecting Agra as one of the districts to conduct the event. Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of food grains in India and accounted for about 18.89% share (58.32 million MT) in the country’s total food grain output in 2020-21. In the year 2019-20, the state of Uttar Pradesh produced 21,71,836.00 MT millet. The different varieties of millet mainly produced in Uttar Pradesh include Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Kodo, and Barnyard Millet. In the Agra district, the millet varieties produced mainly include Sorghum and Pearl Millet. In the year 2019-20, Agra produced 99 MT of Sorghum and 2,93,964 MT of Pearl Millet.
Speaking about the cultural impact of Millets, Baghel said that Millet Based Khareed Kendras, have been set up in the country for the first time post-independence, and steps like these will contribute greatly towards the initiative of IYoM. He also talked about the nutritional benefits of Millet and how it has helped to control health problems like diabetes.
Shri Minhaj Alam, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, informed the gathering that the government is organizing Millet Mahotsav in 20 States and 30 Districts across the country, and these districts represent key regions engaged in the processing of millet. He enlightened the participants about the aim and salient features of Millet Mahotsav and the importance of a holistic approach to Millet processing. He emphasized the various qualities of Millets, like minimal water requirement and adaptability according to the terrain, that make Millets a suitable alternative to commercially grown crops. The States hosting the events include Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Punjab, Kerala, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, West Bengal, and Jharkhand.
Touching upon the importance of millet and the immense market potential for millet-based value-added products, Alam talked about the opportunities in millet processing in Uttar Pradesh. He also informed the stakeholders about the various initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries to support the food processing sector and cited the role of the PMFME Scheme in empowering micro-food processing enterprises by providing financial, technical, and business support across the value chain.
The two-day event was aimed at bringing all the stakeholders of the food processing sector, with a special focus on millets, on a common platform and encompassed a wide range of activities like exhibition and sale of various millet-based products, live kitchen, millet recipe demonstration, cooking competition, painting competition, sharing of success stories, informative sessions on millet processing, interactive sessions between industry experts and micro food processing enterprises, SHGs, FPOs engaged in food processing followed by cultural programs.
In addition to the Millets Mahotsav, a mega-food event World Food India 2023 is also being organized by the Ministry from 3rd to 5th Nov 2023 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi to provide a unique platform to all stakeholders i.e. producers, food processors, equipment manufacturers, logistics players, cold chain players, technology providers, academia, start-up & innovators, food retailers, and much more to interact and have a dialogue. The event is slated to be the biggest-ever congregation of dignitaries, global investors, and business leaders of major global and domestic food companies, which would put India firmly on the global food landscape.