There has never been a greater interest in millets, a class of coarse grains that are a popular staple food.
GS Paper-3: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation system storage; issues of buffer stocks and food security.
How has India’s agricultural landscape been affected by the Green Revolution, and what steps is the government taking to encourage sustainable agriculture and millets production? Discuss (250 words).
- The Prime Minister recently inaugurated a global conference on millets, promoting them as a “door to prosperity” for India’s marginalized farmers, the “cornerstone of nutrition,” and a potential ally in the fight against “climate change.”
- The International Year of Millets has been proclaimed by the United Nations for the year 2023.
- In addition, the Finance Minister referred to millets as “Shree Anna,” which roughly translates to “the best among grains,” during the budget speech.
- Hyderabad’s Indian Institute of Millets Research will likewise be supported as a center of excellence.
- The’superfood’ millets were neglected in favor of rice and wheat during the 1960s Green Revolution.
Millets – The Superfood
- Millets are a superfood, and India has long been the world’s top producer thanks to the strong ties these grains have to Indian dietary customs. Examples of these millets include sorghum, bajra, and ragi.
- Millets were frequently relegated to being used as animal feed as India developed into an agricultural society.
- However, the nation still has about 300 varieties of millets, and in environmentally conscious times, they have been found to use less water, be heat-resistant, and remain nutrient-dense.
- Additionally, they can absorb a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while releasing oxygen, making them an environmentally-resilient and superfood that can be used in a variety of ways.
Marginalized by The Green Revolution
- The Green Revolution sidelined millets, a superfood, in favor of rice and wheat, but this decision had less to do with nutrition and more to do with the development of high-yielding varieties of both grains that produced two or three times as much per acre.
- India’s guaranteed procurement along with the rice-wheat combination allowed the nation to maintain food security even during droughts and climatic calamities.
- Millet production must increase significantly in order to compete with the world’s production of rice, wheat, and maize, which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, make up 89% of all cereal production at present.
Achieving Substantial Growth in Production
- Despite the availability of hybrid jowar and bajra varieties, yields have not increased significantly in recent decades, suggesting that technological advancements may not be sufficient in and of themselves to achieve substantial growth in production.
- India should prioritize the following tactics to encourage millet production and consumption:
- Raise awareness: The government and other interested parties ought to concentrate on informing farmers and consumers about the advantages of millets for their health and the environment.
- Promote research and development: To create millets with high yields and resistance to drought, the government should fund research and development.Furthermore, research can be done to create value-added millet products, like millet-based snacks, breakfast cereals, and gluten-free flour.
- Improve marketing: To help farmers sell their goods and consumers access millet-based products, the government should work to improve millet marketing channels.
- Financial support: The government should offer financial assistance to farmers willing to switch to millet farming. To encourage millet production, this may entail offering subsidies, loans, and other financial inducements.
- Millet is a crop that is both environmentally friendly and healthy. Before the “green revolution” increased the popularity of high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat, it played a significant role in India’s agricultural history.
- There is a renewed interest in promoting millets as a universal cure, though, as a result of growing demand for sustainable agriculture and greater knowledge of the health advantages of millets.
- It’s critical to avoid endorsing particular grains as superior or inferior when promoting millets and to instead concentrate on a more sustainable strategy that encourages the production of all grains and makes it easier for a larger group of consumers to access the cereal they want.