Narendra Singh Tomar millets
Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar at the Pre-launch ceremony of International Year of Millets 2023, in New Delhi on Thursday, Nov 24, 2022. Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Sushri Shobha Karandlaje, Union Minister for External Affairs, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakashi Lekhi are also seen. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday said that the time has come for the Public Distribution System to shift the focus of distribution programmes from basic calories to provide a more diverse food basket that includes millets to improve the nutritional status of pre-school children and women of reproductive age.

The International Year of Millets (IYOM)-2023 will provide an opportunity to increase global production, efficient processing and better use of crop rotation and promote millets as a major component of the food basket, he said, noting that on the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the United Nations has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millet (IYOM).

“Through this, our aim is to increase the domestic and global consumption of Millets,” said Tomar, addressing the Ambassadors/High Commissioners based in Delhi.

The Minister said the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is working in mission mode to increase millet production and consumption in collaboration with other Central Ministries, all state governments and other stakeholder organisations.

Considering the nutritional value of millets, Tomar said the Centre had notified millet as a nutritious cereal in April 2018 and millet has also been included under the Poshan Mission campaign.

Under the National Food Security Mission (NFMS), a nutritious cereal component for millets is being implemented in 212 districts of 14 states. Apart from this, many types of assistance is given to the farmers by the states.

Tomar said funding is also being done by the Ministry of Agriculture for supporting sustainable production, creating awareness for higher consumption, developing market and value chain and research-development activities.

He said more than 66 startups have been given more than Rs 62.5 million, while 25 startups have been approved for further funding. “Government is providing support to startup entrepreneurs for recipes and value-added products to promote consumption of millet,” he said.