PM’s message during opening ceremony of International Year of Millets in Rome, Italy

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi conveyed his message at the opening ceremony of the International Year of Millets at the headquarters of the Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome, Italy today. Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ms Shobha Karandlaje represented India at the opening ceremony in Rome and read out the Prime Minister’s message to the august gathering. It is the Prime Minister’s vision and initiative that led to the United Nations General Assembly declaring the year 2023 ‘International Year of Millets’ 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.

The Prime Minister congratulated the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organisation for the launch of the International Year of Millets 2023 and expressed appreciation to member nations for their support in marking the International Year of Millets.

Informing that millets are among the earliest crops grown by humans and have been an important source of nutrients, the Prime Minister emphasized making it a food choice for the future. Highlighting the challenges of food security, the Prime Minister mentioned the once-in-a-century pandemic and the arising conflicts around the world. He also touched upon how climate change is affecting food availability.

Marking that a global movement related to millets is an important step in the direction of food security, the Prime Minister informed that millets are easy to grow, climate resilient and drought resistant. He further added that millets are a rich source of balanced nutrition, compatible with natural ways of farming and need less water. The Prime Minister remarked, “Millets are good for the consumer, cultivator and climate.”

Stressing the need for diversity on the land and at the dining table, the Prime Minister informed that our health is impacted if agriculture becomes monoculture and pointed out that millets are a good way to increase agricultural and dietary diversity. While concluding his message, the Prime Minister touched upon raising awareness to create ‘Millet Mindfulness’ and highlighted the tremendous role that institutions and individuals can play. He added that while institutional mechanisms can encourage the production of millets and make it profitable via policy initiatives, individuals can make health-conscious and planet-friendly choices by making millets a part of their diet.

The Prime Minister’s message on the occasion can be found below:

“I would like to congratulate the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organisation for the launch of the International Year of Millets 2023.

I also express my appreciation to the different member nations who supported our proposal to mark the International Year of Millets.

Millets have a glorious history of being among the earliest crops grown by humans. They have been an important food source in the past. But the need of the hour is to make them a food choice for the future!

A once-in-a-century pandemic followed by a conflict situation has shown that food security is still a concern for the planet. Climate change can also impact food availability.

At such a time, a global movement related to millets is an important step, since they are easy to grow, climate resilient and drought resistant.

Millets are good for the consumer, cultivator and climate. They are a rich source of balanced nutrition for consumers. They benefit cultivators and our environment since they need lesser water and are compatible with natural ways of farming.

There is a need for diversity on the land and on our tables. If agriculture becomes monoculture, it impacts our health and the health of our lands. Millets are a good way to increase agricultural and dietary diversity.

Raising awareness to create ‘Millet Mindfulness’ is an important part of this movement. Both institutions and individuals can make a tremendous impact.

While institutional mechanisms can encourage production of millets and make it profitable via policy initiatives, individuals can make health-conscious and planet-friendly choices by making millets a part of their diet.

I am positive that the International Year of Millets 2023 will start a mass movement towards a secure, sustainable and healthy future.”

Background

The 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 civilization and was one of the first plants to be domesticated for food. It is grown in about 131 countries and is the traditional food for around 60 crore people in Asia & Africa.

The Government of India has declared to celebrate IYOM, 2023 to make it a people’s movement so that the Indian millets, recipes, and value-added products are accepted globally. The ‘International Year of Millets’ stands to provide a unique opportunity to increase global production, ensure efficient processing and consumption, promote better utilization of crop rotations and encourage better connectivity throughout food systems to promote millets as a key component of the food basket.

The FAO in a brief message said that the Opening Ceremony of the International Year of Millets (IYM) 2023 hosted by the FAO aims to raise awareness and create momentum for the IYM 2023 by engaging FAO Members and other relevant stakeholders and highlighting the benefits of promoting the sustainable cultivation and consumption of millets.