Newdelhi:20/3/23:“Innovation, outreach, and marketing that is targeted at the youth hold the key to making millets the super food of the future”, experts from across the world and members of the industry said at the Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare at the A.P. Shinde Symposium Hall, NASC Complex on Sunday
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) held symposium with technical sessions on promotion and awareness of Millets on the sidelines of Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. This two-day Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference began at NASC Complex, Pusa, New Delhi on Saturday.
The plenary session of the concluding day of the two-day conference began with a special address by Dr D Ian Givens, Director, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health (IFHN), University of Reading, UK. Dr Givens emphasized on millets as sustainable solution to curtail micronutrient deficiency.
Continuing deliberations on the importance of reviving the cultivation and consumption of millets, the first session of Day-2 and the fourth session of the Conference was focused on “Research, Innovations and Sustainability”. The session was moderated by Shri Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Setting the context for the session, Shri Agarwal said that awareness, innovations, robust market integration and supply chain should be the area of focus to promote the consumption of millets. Shri Agarwal said that “shift in food habits and increase in a sedentary lifestyle had added a dual burden of diseases.”
There was an active participation from the delegates attending the sessions and some very interesting questions were taken up by the panelists. Mr. G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India gave an overview of the conference and ideas for way ahead. In his concluding remarks, he quoted the Say’s law of Market which tells – “Supply automatically produces demand”. He added that millets should now be included in daily food items like bread, biscuits, noodles, chocolates, etc. Mr. Rao said that year 2023 is being celebrated as International Year of Millets, but the campaign should not stop here, it should continue from year to year.
Stakeholders in the technical sessions noted that wild varieties of millets are very resistant but needs to be studied well. They shared that millets are in high demand and different packaging solutions are being researched upon to increase the shelf life of millets. Other experts added that greater awareness on health at different levels need to be created. They stressed on the need of more research on yield management and increment. For enriching soil fertility, intercropping with millets was suggested. It was also pointed out that marketing is crucial for the promotion of millets and millennial consumers need to be targeted.
During the thematic session on “Innovations and New Product Development – Industry’s Perspective”, experts from industry shared their views on the resurgence of millets through attractive products which are also accepted by consumers. It was highlighted that continuous work needs to be done in this domain to enhance the outreach of millet-based foods and their sustenance in the market of competitive packaged food products.
The second day of the conference came to a close with the final session on “Millets: Prophylactic and Therapeutic Benefits”. This session was moderated by Justice D Seshadri Naidu, Former Judge Bombay High Court with focus on consumer behaviour, right method of consumption with innovation across the whole value chain. Dr M Srinivas, Director, AIIMS, Delhi, mentioned that phytonutrients present in millets can be very helpful with therapeutic benefits. Other stakeholders emphasized that creativity combined with tradition may lead to healthier and tastier millet-based foods, it was noted that diet moderation is important to make the millets part of the food plate and that traditional recipes need to be revamped so that millets could be the choice of new generation. It was also pointed out that by-products of millets could be important for doubling the farmers’ income.
Experts and representatives from various academic Institutions, governments, Public Health facilities, Development partners, Industry were present at the event.