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What is MIIRA and Its Initiative?


India has introduced a draft to launch a global initiative to encourage the consumption and production of millet. The draft of the proposed initiative — MIIRA — was placed during the first Agriculture Deputies Meeting under the Agriculture Working Group (AWG), G20 at Indore, Madhya Pradesh.


GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is MIIRA?
  2. About Millets crop
  3. About International Year of Millets

What is MIIRA?

  • The acronym MIIRA stands for ‘Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness’.
  • The MIIRA will be aimed at coordinating millet research programmes at the international level.
  • It is in line with the UN declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, the proposal for which was moved by India and supported by 72 countries.
  • The International Year will see several events and activities such as conferences, issuing of stamps and coins etc. to raise awareness about millets, improve their production and quality, and attract investments.
  • The Centre also plans to make India a global hub for millets.

What is the aim of MIIRA?

  • MIIRA will aim to connect millet research organisations across the world while also supporting research on these crops.
  • This is significant as issues like food security and nutrition are among the key priority areas in the agriculture sector during India’s G20 Presidency. India assumed the G20 Presidency on December 1, 2022.
  • Besides setting up a web platform to connect researchers and holding international research conferences, the plan is also to raise awareness for promoting the consumption of millet.
Who will fund the MIIRA initiative?
  • For MIIRA to take off, India will contribute the “seed money”, while each G20 member will later have to contribute to its budget in the form of a membership fee.
  • The MIIRA secretariat will be in Delhi, the sources said, adding that with India being a major producer of millets, this will ensure a flow of investment from the country’s industry and research bodies.

About Millets crop:

  • The word millets is used to describe small-grained cereals like sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (kangni/ Italian millet), little millet (kutki), kodo millet, finger millet (ragi/ mandua), proso millet (cheena/ common millet), barnyard millet (sawa/ sanwa/ jhangora), and brown top millet (korale).
  • Millets were among the first crops to be domesticated.
  • There is evidence for consumption of millets by the Indus valley people (3,000 BC), and several varieties that are now grown around the world were first cultivated in India.
  • West Africa, China, and Japan are home to indigenous varieties of the crop.
  • They require much less water than rice and wheat, and are mainly grown in rainfed areas.
  • Globally, sorghum (jowar) is the biggest millet crop.
  • The major producers of jowar are the United States, China, Australia, India, Argentina, Nigeria, and Sudan. Bajra is another major millet crop; India and some African countries are major producers.
  • In India, millets are mainly a kharif crop. During 2018-19, three millet crops — bajra (3.67%), jowar (2.13%), and ragi (0.48%) — accounted for about 7 per cent of the gross cropped area in the country, Agriculture Ministry data show.

Advantages of promoting millets

  • Millets are considered to be “powerhouses of nutrition”.
  • Millets are less expensive and nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their high protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals like iron content.
  • Millets are also rich in calcium and magnesium.
  • Its high iron content can fight high prevalence of anaemia in Indian women of reproductive age and infants.
  • They are also harder and drought-resistant crops, which has to do with their short growing season (70-100 days, as against 120-150 days for paddy/wheat) and lower water requirement (350-500 mm versus 600-1,200 mm).
  • As low investment is needed for production of millets, these can prove to be a sustainable income source for farmers.
  • Millets can help tackle lifestyle problems and health challenges such as obesity and diabetes as they are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index (a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels).

About International Year of Millets:

  • India’s proposal to observe an International Year of Millets in 2023 was approved by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2018 and the United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
  • This was adopted by a United Nations Resolution for which India took the lead and was supported by over 70 nations.
  • Aim is to increase the domestic and global consumption of Millets.
  • Awareness of the contribution of millet to Food Security and nutrition.
  • Inspire stakeholders to improve sustainable production and quality of millets.
  • Focus on enhanced investment in research and development and extension services to achieve the other two aims.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023