Millets and Wellness– -To be or not to be!!

Millets and Wellness—To be  or not to be!!

(Dr.  K.M.  George—Secretary General of Global Millets Foundation; Email—melmana@; WhatsApp—919947670887)

(Keynote Address at the National Seminar on Millets held on 11th August at UC College, Alwaye, Kerala—India)


  1. The year 2023 is the IYOM as declared by the    UN—FAO–
  2. Focus today is to sensitize students and   young researchers to understand the potential of millets as super food and its role in promoting the SDG2,12&13.

Sustainable Development Goal 2 is about creating a world free of hunger by 2030.  In 2020, between 720 million and 811 million persons worldwide were suffering from hunger, roughly 161 million more than in 2019. Also in 2020, a staggering 2.4 billion people, or above 30 per cent of the world’s population, were moderately or severely food-insecure, lacking regular access to adequate food. The figure increased by nearly 320 million people in just one year. Globally, 149.2 million children under 5 years of age, or 22.0 per cent, were suffering from stunting (low height for their age) in 2020, a decrease from 24.4 per cent in 2015.

Goal 12 is about ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, which is key to sustain the livelihoods of current and future generations. Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are root causes of the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

SDG 13 seeks to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century and to limit global warming to well below 2°C — with an aim of 1.5°C — compared with pre-industrial times. It aims to strengthen countries’ climate resilience and adaptive capacity, with a special focus on supporting least-developed countries.

Having seen the bigger canvas of the  SDGs  relevant  to  the  Millets  revolution, now  let us examine  the crux  of millets vis a vis  wellness.

There are  some 800 million people malnourished   globally and India  accounts  for  some  200 million or 25 percent.

Millets  are  very  small and  tiny   grains from grass. As students of Botany, you are well  aware of its  taxonomy–genera ,  specious  etc. In India it was grown some 5000  years ago. Now it  is  grown in  130 countries.

It is   staple diet  for   500 million people in Africa and Asia.

India produces some 20 million tonnes of millets annually while the world  production is  estimated  at 40 million  tonnes.

Major millets growing  nations are India, Nigeria, Niger, China, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Chad and  Senegal.

Major millets  grown  in India are  Jowar ( Sorghum),Bajara ( Pearl ) and Ragi ( Finger ).

 Names in Malayalam:

Little  Millets—Chama; Foxtail Millets—Tina; Kodo Millets—Varagu;PearlIllets—Bajara; Jowar millets—Manicholam; Barnyard Millets—Kuthriavali.

Positive Millets:

Fox tail ( Tina);Kodo(Varagu);Barnyard(  Kuthiravali);Little  Millets  (  Chama)& Brown Top (  American Millets).

Health Benefits of  Millets:

There  are   five must be  consumed Millets  owning wellness  reasons:

  1. Fox tail millets—Tina—It is  a nerve  tonic-It is most balanced of  all millets.
  2. Little millets—Chama-Has the  unique  ability to cleanse  the reproductive organs.
  3. Kodo millets-Varagu—cleanses the born marrow. It can even  address anaemia and low  platelet count.
  4. Barnyard—Kuthiravali—it  cleanses  the  kidney, urinary bladder and  beefs up  liver  function.
  5. Brown top millets—American millets—It can  helps healing of alimentary canal for  constipation, gastric  ulcers, piles etc.

Suggested Consumption pattern of millets:

If  you are  looking at Millets  to address Diabetics/BP  and Cholesterol

Little millets twice  a week; Kodo twice  a week  and Barnyard, Fox tail and  brown top.

 For stomach ailments:

Use  foxtail, Brown top, Barnyard, Kodo and Little millets—twice  a week.

For better immunity

Use Brown top—Barnyard—Little—Fox tail—Kodo millets

After having discussed the wellness part of  millets, I  draw  your  attention  to the  challenges  faced in the  areas  of  production,  processing, consumption, R&D,  distribution  at  affordable  process  to all. Again, millets for  senior  citizens is another  area demanding policy  attention. Geriatric   areas and millets must  attract  research attention  coupled   with policy  focus.

Challenges Faced by Millets Production, Processing etc:

1)Productivity  of millets  is  low  compared to  wheat  or rice.  The  major  problem faced  by  farmers  is of weeds. Good farming practise —System of Millet Intensification ( SMI) if  adopted,  yields  would  go up. Use of improved  varieties  of  seeds is another  challenge.

2) There  is  decline in   the   area under millets.  (  From  1960s  to  2022—a decline  of  50%).

3) Millets  are  generally less  prone  to pests and diseases.  But  the  timely  sowing  is  very  critical to ward of  losses due to  pests and  the  vagaries  of  the  weather.

4) Millets Seed Production is  another  grey area.  Quality millet  seeds is a necessary  precondition  to  make  the  IYOM  a success story in the   ground level. The Indian Institute of Millets Research (ICAR-IIMR) located at Rajendranagar (Hyderabad, Telangana, India) is called upon  to  take  up the  challenges  faced  by the  farmers fairly and  squarely.

Millet Processing:

  • Millet grains differ in size, shape, and husk. As  such it  becomes  very  difficult to handle it  easily. Barnyard and Kodo millets  contain multiple  seed coats. It needs  double stage dueller to remove the  husk. The  machines  available in India have  low  recovery of  70  to  80  percent. It is  another  challenge  for  the IIMR.

  • Another  area  demanding  research  attention is  to increase the  shelf life of processed millets grains. Today it is around   4  to  6 months only. If we  aim at  export markets,  it must be   with at least  12 months shelf life. IIMR  must  accord  top priority to this  critical  area also.
  • Millets  are highly nutritious, gluten free with low  glycaemic index. They  are rich in fibre, protein, minerals, and  anti oxidants. They  are  indeed valuable  for  a healthy  diet.

The future beckons, shall we falter!!!

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