More Crop With Less Water, Nutrition For Millions – PM

PM Modi suggested including Shree Anna in the mid-day meal so that children can get proper nutrition while adding a new taste and variety to the food

NEW DELHI, Mar 18 (The CONNECT) – Focusing on multi-dimensional aspects of millets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Shree Anna Mission will help fighting climate change.

Millets is about getting more crops with less water and a big foundation for chemical-free farming, door to prosperity for the country’s poor farmers apart from being the cornerstone of nutrition for crores of people across the country, Modi said inaugurating the two-day Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference in the capital.

The conference will have sessions on all issues related to millets (Shree Anna) such as promotion and awareness of millets among producers, consumers and other stakeholders; millets’ value chain development; health and nutritional aspects of millets; market linkages; research and development etc. 

President of Ethiopia, H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde congratulated the Government of India for organizing the event. She said that millets provide an affordable and nutritious option to feed the people in these times. Ethiopia is an important millet-producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa. She underlined the utility of the event for highlighting the policy attention needed for the propagation of millets and studying the suitability of the crops as per their ecosystem.  

Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of Guyana said that India has assumed global leadership in promoting the cause of millets and in doing so it is placing its expertise for the use of the rest of the world. He said that the success of the International Year of Millets will go a long way in achieving SDGs. Guyana has recognized millets as a key factor in ensuring food security, he informed. Guyana is embarking on a collaboration with India for scalable production of millet by earmarking 200 acres of land for exclusive millet production where India will provide technical guidance and support with technology. 

Addressing the gathering, Modi highlighted that brainstorming sessions will be held on topics such as the farming of millets, millets economy, health benefits, and farmers’ income among others with the active participation of Gram Panchayat, Krishi Kendras, schools, colleges and agricultural universities along with the Indian embassies and several foreign countries.

Modi informed that more than 75 lakh farmers are virtually connected to this programme today.

Starting that about 2.5 crore small farmers are directly involved in the production of millets in India, the Prime Minister noted that they faced the challenges of climate change even though they own very little land. “India’s Millet Mission – The campaign for Shri Anna will prove to be a boon for 2.5 crore farmers of the country”, he said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that more than 500 startups working on Shree Anna have come up and a large number of FPOs are also coming forward in the last few years. He also pointed out that a complete supply chain is being developed in the country where women from self-help groups in small villages are making millet products that are making their way into malls and supermarkets. 

Touching upon the food security challenges faced in the world of today, the Prime Minister highlighted the challenge of food security for the poor in the Global South and diseases linked to food habits in the Global North. “On one hand we have the problem of food security, and on the other hand the problem of food habits”, he said as he pointed out the concerns about heavy use of chemicals in the produce. The Prime Minister remarked that Shree Anna provides solutions to every such problem as it is easy to grow, its cost is also less in this, and it gets ready for cultivation faster than other crops. The Prime Minister listed the benefits of Shree Anna and said that it is rich in nutrition, special in taste, high in fibre content, very beneficial for the body and health, and helps in preventing lifestyle-related diseases. 

“Millets bring with them endless possibilities”,  the Prime Minister remarked. Informing that the contribution of Shree Anna to the national food basket in India is only 5-6 percent, the Prime Minister urged the scientists and experts in the agriculture sector to work towards increasing this contribution and suggested setting achievable targets for every year. He also noted that the country has also started a PLI scheme to give a boost to the food processing sector. The Prime  Minister emphasized the need to ensure that the millet sector gets maximum benefit from it, and more companies come forward to make millet products. He also added that many states have included Shree Anna in their PDS system and suggested that other states follow suit. He also suggested including Shree Anna in the mid-day meal so that children can get proper nutrition while also adding a new taste and variety to the food.

The Prime Minister also inaugurated and visited the Exhibition-cum-Buyer Seller Meet Pavilion, unveiled a commemorative stamp and commemorative coin, digitally launched a compendium of Indian Millet startups and a book of Shri Anna standards.