Pearl millet is one of the most widely cultivated and consumed millets in India. It is a drought-tolerant crop and is often grown in arid and semi-arid regions. Bajra is used to make various dishes like roti (flatbread), porridge, and snacks.
Finger Millet (Ragi)
Finger millet is also a highly nutritious millet that is rich in calcium, iron, and other minerals. Ragi is commonly used in the southern parts of India to make dosas, idlis, porridge, and malted drinks.
Foxtail Millet (Kangni)-India millet
Foxtail millet is also an ancient grain that is rich in dietary fiber and has a nutty flavor. It is used to prepare various dishes, including pulao, upma, and porridge.
Little Millet (Kutki)-India millet
Little millet is also a small-grained millet that is rich in fiber and nutrients. It is used to make dishes like pulao, khichdi, and idlis.
Proso Millet (Cheena/Cheeno)-India millet
Proso millet is also a drought-tolerant millet that is used in various culinary preparations. It is commonly used in the preparation of rotis and can also be used in porridge and other dishes.
Barnyard Millet (Jhangora)-India millet
Barnyard millet is also another millet variety grown in India. It is used in the preparation of porridge, pulao, and other dishes.
These millets are an essential part of the traditional diet in many regions of India, especially in rural areas. In recent times, there has been a renewed interest in millets due to their nutritional benefits, gluten-free nature, and their ability to grow in diverse agro-climatic conditions. Millets are considered an important component of sustainable and climate-smart agriculture.
Benefits of India millet
Millets offer a range of health benefits due to their nutritional composition. Here are some of the key benefits of including millet in your diet:
Rich in Nutrients
So, Millets are packed with essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They contain B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and more.
High in Fiber
Millets are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health, prevents constipation, and helps in maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber also contributes to a feeling of fullness, reducing overeating.
Most millets are naturally gluten-free, making them a suitable grain option for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
Low Glycemic Index
Millets generally have a lower glycemic index than refined grains, meaning they have a slower impact on blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for managing diabetes and preventing sudden spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
The fiber, magnesium, and potassium content in millets contribute to heart health. These nutrients help regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and support cardiovascular function.
Rich in Antioxidants
Millets contain antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a role in preventing oxidative stress and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
The fiber content in millets helps in maintaining a healthy weight by promoting a feeling of fullness and regulating appetite.
Millets, especially finger millet (ragi), are rich in calcium and other minerals essential for bone health. Regular consumption can contribute to the prevention of conditions like osteoporosis.
Some millets, such as finger millet (ragi), have been shown to have a positive impact on blood sugar levels, making them a suitable option for individuals with diabetes.
Sustainable and Climate-Resilient
Millets are hardy crops that can grow in diverse agro-climatic conditions, including arid and semi-arid regions. Their cultivation requires less water and is more environmentally sustainable.
Including a variety of millets in your diet can contribute to overall well-being and provide a nutritious alternative to more commonly consumed grains. It’s important to note that while millets offer numerous health benefits, a balanced and varied diet is key to meeting all nutritional requirements.
Initiatives taken and proposed activities of India millet
Millets Mission-India millet
Several Indian states have launched millet promotion programs and missions to encourage the cultivation and consumption of millets. These missions often include awareness campaigns, training programs, and financial incentives for farmers.
Smart Food Initiative
The Smart Food Initiative, led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), promotes the production and consumption of nutrient-rich smart foods, including millets and sorghum. The initiative focuses on improving food and nutritional security.
Millets in School Nutrition Programs
Some regions have introduced millets into school nutrition programs to promote their consumption among children. This not only provides healthier food options but also supports local farmers.
Research and Development
Ongoing research and development efforts aim to enhance the productivity, nutritional content, and climate resilience of millets. This includes developing new varieties of millets that can thrive in different agro-climatic conditions.
International Year of Millets
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets to raise awareness about the importance of millets for food security, nutrition, and resilient agricultural systems.
Organic Farming and Agroecology
Initiatives promoting organic farming and agroecology often include the cultivation of millet. These practices focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural methods.
Collaboration between governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private entities is crucial for promoting millets. These partnerships may involve joint initiatives for research, marketing, and infrastructure development.
Consumer Awareness Campaigns
Campaigns aimed at educating consumers about the nutritional benefits of millet and promoting them as healthy alternatives to refined grains are ongoing. These may include advertisements, workshops, and promotional events.
Value Addition and Processing Units
Establishing processing units for millets to produce value-added products like millet flour, snacks