He spoke to UN News earlier this year and said that after the recent adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution in 2023 International Year of Millets In March 2021, efforts are underway to promote cultivation as a solution to global climate and global security challenges.
Mills – often referred to as “nutritious grains” because of their high nutritional value – are a group of small seed grasses that grow mainly in the arid regions of Asia and Africa. These include sorghum (or excellent millet), pearl millet, finger millet, phony, prosciutto millet, horsetail millet, spit, and other smaller varieties.
Estimates show that more than 90 million people in Africa and Asia depend on millet in their diet. Africa accounts for more than 55% of world production, followed by Asia at around 40%, while Europe accounts for about 3% of the world market.
The world needs more food to feed a rapidly growing global population, which is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and a staggering 9.7 billion by 2050.
As the climate crisis deepens and environmental tensions escalate, the need for more crop diversity increases with the promotion of crops suitable for cultivation in the harshest environments.
The UN resolution reaffirms the role of millet in responding to nutritional, territorial and climatic challenges, “the urgent need to raise awareness of the nutritional and climate-resistant benefits of millet and to support diverse, balanced and balanced regimes. “Healthy through a steady increase in millet production and consumption.”
They are rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron and calcium. It is rich in protein, fiber, resistant starch and has a low glycemic index that can help prevent or manage diabetes.
Good for growth
“Compared to commonly known grains such as wheat, rice or corn, millet is able to grow in drought conditions, in non-irrigation conditions, even in low rainfall regimes,” said Dr. Aburto, vice president. Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
International Crop Research Institute for semi-arid regions (ICRISATBased in Hyderabad, India, it is a non-profit organization that conducts agricultural research for development. ICRISAT works closely with the farming community and its partners, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Focusing on millet, among other products.
ICRISAT Assistant Director General for External Relations Joanna Kane-Potaka described millet as a smart food – good for people, the planet and farmers.
“The mill can help meet the biggest global challenges in coordination – nutrition and health needs, climate change mitigation, smallholder poverty and marginalization in arid areas – some of the most difficult areas to reach for longer “Sustainable development goals.”
By assessing a reduction in dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, millet cultivation may also help shift to sustainable agriculture, diversify crop rotation, and avoid upgrading single-crop systems.
“The high carbon content of crop residues makes them important for maintaining and increasing soil carbon levels, for sustainable cropping systems and, if necessary, for providing fodder for livestock,” said Dr. Aburto.
“Dividing the food system”
The mill is believed to be one of the first domesticated plants to have long been used as a staple for millions of farmers, especially in India, China and Nigeria.
Despite the wide range of millet benefits, they are largely missing from the global food security agenda. In fact, in recent years, their production has gradually decreased.
Experts are leading to a “division of the food system” due to market distortions, a lack of understanding of the benefits of millet and policies that have led to the production of the so-called three large grains – rice, wheat and corn.
ICRISAT’s Joanna Kane Potaka presented an example from India in which “during the Green Revolution, high-yield rice and wheat varieties were introduced and supported to expand on a large scale, to improve food security, while “Undoubtedly, there is not enough attention. Nutritional or environmental factors.”
This problem is exacerbated by changes in eating habits, high transaction costs, and challenges in accessing better markets. Especially in the case of Africa.
“Farmers are therefore turning to higher-wage products to sell for a profit and move away from subsistence farming in response to changing consumer preferences and market inputs,” said Dr. Aborto.
Return of millet
According to Ms. Potaka, helping the return of millet is not only popularizing neglected and low-consumption products, but also trying to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – mainly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG3 (Health and Wellness). SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action).
“It is necessary to work on increasing production and changing the perception of them in order to increase demand for new and modern products,” he said.
Dr. Aburto said the current trend could be reversed with government-sponsored policies to support millet production and consumption, along with increasing consumer awareness of their nutritional and health benefits.
At the same time, it is important to increase investment in research and development and to provide opportunities for farmers to better connect with efficient value chains and markets.
Dr. Aborto also emphasized the vital role of farmers in preserving millet genetic diversity through initiatives such as the Community Seed Bank, Seed Exhibition, and Farmer Networks, focusing on the promotion of local millet.
2023: Year of Millet
In declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, the resolution calls on all stakeholders to support “activities aimed at raising awareness and directing policies to the nutritional and health benefits of millet consumption and their suitability for cultivation in adverse conditions and change.” “Climate” conditions, meanwhile, shift policy attention to improving value chain performance. ”
Using experiences from past initiatives such as International Pulse Year 2016 and 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, The United Nations Agricultural Agency is working to develop an action plan with the participation of foreign stakeholders, including farmers and research institutes.
“Measures taken through existing initiatives, such as the United Nations Decade for Nutrition Action, 2016-2025, are coordinated and supported, providing an umbrella for a wide range of actors to work together to nurture and Eliminate other nutritional pressures. ” Aburto added.
In line with the FaoA sustainable and food-safe global landscape for all, producing more nutritious food for a growing population without overloading the earth’s resources is a major global challenge.
In the search for weather-resistant solutions, millet can be a key link in the sustainable food supply chain.
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