Assessing Consumer Demand for Millets in India Report

Consumer BehaviourMillets

For centuries, millets were the staples in India but gradually were relegated to the background and got marginalized post the green revolution as the agrarian emphasis shifted to increased food grain production & productivity using high-yielding varieties of wheat & rice in the identified green revolution geographies.

To create domestic and global demand and to provide nutritional food to the people, Government of India had proposed to the United Nations for declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYoM-2023). This proposal from India was supported by 72 countries and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets on 5th March 2021. This led to the Hon’ble Union Finance Minister making a Budget announcement on 1st February 2022 where she said “2023 has been announced as the International Year of Millets. Support will be provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption and branding of millet products nationally and internationally”.

Millets are small-grained, annual, warm-weather cereals belonging to the grass family. Jowar (Sorghum), Bajra (Pearl Millet) and Ragi (Finger millet) are the important millets cultivated in India. Small Millets such as Proso (Cheena), Kodo (Kodra, Arikelu), Fox tail (Kangni/Korra), Barnyard (Varai, Sawa), Little millet (Kutki) are also grown in our country. Millets are the staple crops of the semiarid tropics, as other food crops cannot be cultivated in that terrain due to low rainfall and poor soil fertility. They also have higher nutrient content compared to major cereal crops and ensure food and nutrition security. Further, millets are tolerant to drought and other extreme weather conditions and hence are endemic to such geographies.

With growing concerns about lifestyle diseases coupled with a ‘refined’ diet culture, modern consumers are slowly, but increasingly looking at the nutrient-rich millets as a suitable alternative to wheat and rice. In order to encourage the production and consumption of millets, Government of India had notified millets as Nutri-Cereals in April, 2018.

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