Sharing experiences at a multi-stakeholder conference ‘Shaping Perspectives on Practise and Policy for Millets in India’, organised by Reliance Foundation, participants from across India’s millet landscape emphasised that challenges of food security, farm livelihoods and nutrition diversity can be resolved in a climate-resilient manner, by building on the momentum generated during the International Year of Millets (IYOM).
They stressed the need for greater collaboration, increased farmer-focused efforts, and deliberated successes and challenges from both practice and policy within India’s millet landscape.
Shubha Thakur, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, detailed Government of India’s efforts to take the millets agenda ahead. She said, “We have created six task forces, in Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of health, one in the nutrition sector to continue the journey of millets. Millets are a crop for the future.”
She added “It is heartening to see Reliance Foundation working with farmers. A multi-stakeholder approach is very important if millets are to succeed. To help increase farmers’ incomes, there needs to be value addition through branding, export potential and more.”
Jagannatha Kumar, CEO, Reliance Foundation, said, “This decade has been historic for the global food systems dialogue, and transformational for millets. We are witnessing the discourse change to millets being sought after and India has led this change from the front. The strong momentum generated so far should enable us to leapfrog into an era when millets are coming of age in providing food security and diversity amidst climate change. It is essential to build on this momentum, with shared development goals. At Reliance Foundation, we are deeply committed to diversifying food and farming systems with millets and we will continue build on discussions such as today’s along with other opportunities to share our learnings with stakeholders across the ecosystem.”
A publication, ‘Fostering Resilience for Sustainability: Reliance Foundation’s Millet Experiences’, that documents learnings from millet interventions in different states was released on the occasion.
Fostering Resilience for Sustainability showcases end to end interventions that include making quality seed accessible to farmers, providing continued technical support, strengthening market linkages, empowering women’s agency and building awareness of millets.
Since 2010, Reliance Foundation has been focusing on sustainable agriculture and strengthening of food systems through a collaborative approach with various stakeholders. The work with millet small and marginal farmers is another step to build resilience in the face of changing climate while enhancing the nutritional status of communities.
Having observed 2018 as its ‘National Year of Millets’, India presented the proposal for the ‘International Year of Millets’ (IYOM) in the United Nations. At the 75th General Assembly session of the UN in March 2021, the year 2023 was declared IYOM to increase global awareness of the benefits of consuming and growing millets.
India is world’s largest millet producer and its average production of 16.93 million metric tons during 2019-22 was about 11% higher than the production during 2014-18. Though area under millet cultivation has reduced, productivity has markedly increased over the years.
Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Reliance Industries Limited, aims to play a catalytic role in addressing India’s development challenges through innovative and sustainable solutions.
Led by Nita M Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation is relentlessly working for the overall well-being and enhanced quality of life for all, focusing on rural transformation, education, health, sports for development, disaster management, women empowerment, urban renewal and arts, culture and heritage, and has touched the lives of over 71 million people across India, in over 54,800 villages and urban locations.