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Special Content

Issue no 40, 31 December 2022 - 06 January 2023

India's Action Plan to Promote Millets Export


Sandip Das

 As the United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets, India being the largest producer of nutri-cereals, has initiated steps to boost exports. India accounts for an estimated share of around 41 percent of global millets production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, global production of millets in the year 2020 was 30.464 million metric tonnes (MMT) and India's share was 12.49 MMT, which accounts to 41% of the total millet production. India's millet production in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) was 15.9 MMT. Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh collectively have a share of more than 60% in the total millet production. Nearly 1% of the total millets produced in the country are exported. Millets have superior nutritional values in comparison to highly consumed cereals such as rice and wheat. Millets are rich in calcium, iron, and fibers that help in fortifying essential nutrients for healthy growth in children. Also, the usage of millets in infant food and nutrition products is increasing. There are 16 major varieties of millet, which are produced and exported in the country. These include Sorghum (Jowar), Pearl Millet (Bajra), Finger Millet (Ragi) Minor Millets (Kangani), Proso Millet (Cheena), Kodo Millet (Kodo), Barnyard Millet (Sawa/Sanwa/Jhangora), Little Millet (Kutki), Pseudo Millets (BuckWheat/Kuttu), Ameranthus (Chaulai) and Browtop Millet. Given the importance of millets in building nutritional security in the country, the government had initiated a series of efforts including gazetting millets as Nutri-Cereals and the declaration of the National Year of Millets in 2018.

Enhancing Production: Currently, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is implementing a Sub-Mission on Nutri-Cereals (millets) under National Food Security Mission to enhance area, production & productivity of millets including bajra. Under this Sub-Mission, bajra is being promoted in 89 districts of 9 states including 14 districts of Gujarat. North Eastern States, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh have been given flexibility to include their districts under the programme. Furthermore, the Government has revised the guidelines for movement of the surplus millets from one state to another. The provision of inter[1]state transportation of surplus millets through Food Corporation of India is incorporated to cater for advance demand placed by consuming states before the start of procurement.

Leveraging Global Forums: The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri. Narendra Singh Tomar recently stated that along with wheat and rice, millets should also find a respectable place again in the food plate. Shri. Tomar said with the aim of promoting nutri-cereals in the country and the world, India will play a major role in celebrating the International Year of Millets[1]2023, announced by the United Nations. The proposal was made at the UN by Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi and 72 countries supported it. While addressing the recently held 'Millets-Smart Nutritive Food' conclave organised by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA) with the support of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare recently, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Shri. Piyush Goyal said, "The world has accepted several such initiatives championed by India from Yoga to Millets, a clear reflection of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's global leadership and the success of his bid to promote the India-story across the world." The Minister said that we must work together to mainstream the millet story and make millets globally acceptable to solve problems of malnutrition and starvation that many parts of the world continue to face. At the 'Millets-Smart Nutritive Food' conclave, at least 50 Mission heads from different countries, 35 importers from 18 countries, participated in person. Besides, 75 Indian Embassy representatives joined the conclave virtually. The event also witnessed a huge participation of representatives from different countries as well as important stakeholders such as exporters, importers, FPOs, Start-ups, farmers, etc. As part of a robust strategy to promote millets, the Indian government has been making efforts to rope in Indian missions abroad in branding and publicity of Indian millets, identification of international chefs as well as potential buyers such as departmental stores, super[1]markets and hypermarkets for organising B2B (business to business) meetings and direct tie-ups. In addition, Ambassadors of Foreign missions in India of the targeted countries and potential importers would also be invited to showcase various millet-based products, including Ready-to-Eat millet products and facilitate B2B meetings. APEDA plans to organise millet promotional activities in South Africa, Dubai, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Sydney, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom and United States of America by facilitating participation of different stakeholders from India in some of the significant food shows, Buyer Seller Meets and Road Shows. APEDA also plans to showcase millets and its value added product at various global platforms such as Gulfood 2023, Foodex, Seoul Food & Hotel Show, Saudi Agro Food, Fine Food Show in Sydney (Australia), Belgium's Food & Beverages Show, Germany's BioFach and Anuga Food Fair, San Francisco's Winter Fancy Food Show, etc. Following the successful conduct of 'Millets-Smart Nutritive Food' conclave, APEDA with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, plans to organise millet promotion events in 16 other countries to provide a global platform for Indian Millets, which are rich in nutrient value and unique in taste. APEDA would also organise food sampling and tasting at the retail level and in key local bazaars of targeted countries where individual, household consumers can gain familiarity with millet products. As per the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence data, India registered a growth of 8.02% in the export of millets in the financial year 2021-22 as the export of millets was 159,332.16 metric tonne against 147,501.08 metric tonne during the same period last year. As per estimates, from an export of $ 64 million in 2021-22, shipment of nutri-cereals could cross $ 100 million by 2023-24. India's major millet exporting countries are the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Oman, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, U.K and U.S.A. The varieties of millets exported by India include Bajra, Ragi, Canary, Jowar, and Buckwheat. The major millet importing countries in the world are Indonesia, Belgium, Japan, Germany, Mexico, Italy, the U.S.A, United Kingdom, Brazil and Netherlands. The Centre has created the Nutri Cereals Export Promotion Forum to give impetus to the export of potential products, including millets, and to remove the bottlenecks in the supply chain of Nutri cereals. Recently a knowledge report titled "Super food Millets: A USD 2 Billion Export Opportunity for India," was released. This is a first-of[1]its-kind endeavor to capture the global and Indian scenario of millets in order to assess India's potential for exporting millets and millet-based value-added products around the world. It is estimated that the millets market is set to grow from its current market value of more than USD 9 billion to over USD 12 billion by 2025. By boosting millet exports, the Government of India aims to increase farmers' incomes while promoting sustainable farming in the country.

(The author is a senior journalist. He can be reached at writerfoodsd@ gmail.com). Views expressed are personal)