Dr Khadar Valli, the Millet Man of India Image Credit: Gulf News

DUBAI: The small, humble grains are finally getting their due. For long considered as a poor man’s food, millets are now on the verge of becoming superstars of nutrition and one man who has steadfastly believed in their powers all along is Dr Khadar Valli, also known as the Millet Man of India. With unwavering efforts, he is bringing back these unprepossessing foods on the plates of everyone, including the rich.

The Green Revolution in India in the 1960s changed the course of dietary preferences as people moved away from traditional food grains. Millets were seen to be primitive foods, which only the poor ate. But Dr Valli prefers to term them as super or rich grains.

Millets comprised about 40 per cent of all cultivated grains in India before the Green Revolution robbed them of their profile. Today, they are a mere 20 per cent with devastating ecological and nutritional consequences, says Dr Valli. The grain is now grown mainly as bird feed.

Dr Valli, who hails from Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh, lived in the US for a few years before he returned and settled down in Mysore after 10 years as a Homeopathy doctor.

Since then, he has done extensive research on millets and their curative properties in reversing diabetes, PCOD, thyroid, obesity, constipation, migraine and several other ailments. In an exclusive phone interview with Gulf News, he spoke of the ‘scam and scheme’ tricks of the food industry in pushing rice and wheat as wholesome grains, while the fact is that it is millets that do a world of good for all, he said.

“Health should be our birthright, and no leader has ever stressed this point,” he said.

“In Benguluru alone, there are three million diabetes patients. I have conducted more than 40 awareness campaigns over the last 10 years in the city. They have realised the benefits of millets and switched to this super food and have been cured of the disease,” he says.

As a result, the demand for millets has grown tremendously and the farmers are trying their best to meet the demand. “We have seen farmers growing rice or other food grains commit suicide if their crops failed. But now, any small farmer can grow millets even in a barren patch of land as these crops require very little water and no fertilisers or pesticides. All it takes is just four rains for growing millets, yielding four quintals of the grain per acre,” Dr Valli says.

The ecological warrior is pained by the growing number of children getting diabetes because of eating processed foods including “2-minute noodles advertised by celebrities” and the fact that girls in India are attaining puberty at the age of 6 or 7.

According to Dr Valli, healthy food has three dimensions: it should give us good health; it should be sustainable; and life on this planet should continue for a long time, which means we have to preserve and conserve our natural resources.

“The food that we now consume doesn’t conform to any of these requirements,” he says. “People are eating wrong foods and even medicines are unable to keep them healthy. By wrong foods I mean rice, wheat, milk, sugar, all kinds of meats and eggs.

The way forward , he advises, is to figure out what food is required and then ensure it is available in large quantities.

“The second point is sustainability and that’s possible only with crops that don’t require large quantity of natural resources. “Just four rains are good enough to grow these five millets (see box).

“Third, we should make the soil more fertile for the future generations,” said Dr Valli. “That’s where the jungle farming becomes relevant. From the field to your plate, the food should be sustainable, involving no machines. This way, decentralisation falls into place.

“If you produce in India and feed people in Mexico, that doesn’t work.”

Response

The response to his campaigning has been overwhelming, he says, because it cures diseases. “Educating the farming community is our next battle since the corporates have hijacked Indian farming methods. Efforts are being made to educate farmers about better millet growing techniques.”

According to Dr Valli, multinational companies are responsible for tampering with the crop patterns in order to push their seeds, fertilisers and pesticides.

“Millets grow very well in diverse, small-scale, low-input farming systems. Our aim is to simplify the cleaning of grain without involving high-end machinery. The farmers themselves can do this with simple equipment costing no more than Rs2,000 at home to make the grain palatable.”

Dr Valli is convinced that even large-scale farming farmers with hundreds of acres can grow millets profitably.

The way forward, he says, is Adavi Krishi (forest farming) to energise the forests.

How can we energise forests?

Soil from forest is brought and placed in pots, to which barnyard millet flour and horse gram flour is added to help microbes grow. This slurry is sprayed on barren lands over three weeks to energize the make it fertile for the millet crop. No fertilisers are used. The tiny birds, which are not pests strictly speaking, which come to feed on some grain make the land fertile with their dropping.

What are the benefits of millets?

“We have proved that thousands of people have got rid of their HIV, cancer and other diseases by eating millets,” says Dr Valli. “Several thousands of cases of diabetes, cholesterol, lupus, arthritis, rheumatism, psoriasis and all these so-called auto immune diseases have been cured with our procedure within a matter of six months to one year. There are no conditions which cannot be cured when you stop eating rice and wheat and switch to millets. The only thing we cannot cure is diabetic eye (diabetic retinopathy). Maybe I need more time to figure out how to tackle that as well.”

Speaking of his conviction in the ability of millets to be a panacea of sorts, Dr Valli says, “I am a biologist and have done extensive work in genetics. I realised regulation of glucose is the root of all diseases and figured out only millets have the capacity to regulate it. They release glucose slowly and steadily into blood. No other food can do that.”

Dr Valli’s belief is that, “If we all switch to millets, every week a hospital will shut down.”

How to eat millets:

“We have proved that thousands of people have got rid of their HIV, cancer and other diseases by eating millets,” says Dr Valli. “Several thousands of cases of diabetes, cholesterol, lupus, arthritis, rheumatism, psoriasis and all these so-called auto immune diseases have been cured with our procedure within a matter of six months to one year. There are no conditions which cannot be cured when you stop eating rice and wheat and switch to millets. The only thing we cannot cure is diabetic eye (diabetic retinopathy). Maybe I need more time to figure out how to tackle that as well.”

Speaking of his conviction in the ability of millets to be a panacea of sorts, Dr Valli says, “I am a biologist and have done extensive work in genetics. I realised regulation of glucose is the root of all diseases and figured out only millets have the capacity to regulate it. They release glucose slowly and steadily into blood. No other food can do that.”

Dr Valli’s belief is that, “If we all switch to millets, every week a hospital will shut down.”

What are the Siri Dhanyas (Rich Millets)

Foxtail Millets

Foxtail Millets. Image Credit: Nagarjuna Rao/Gulf News

Little Millets

Little Millets. Image Credit: Nagarjuna Rao/Gulf News

Browntop Millets

Browntop Millets. Image Credit: Nagarjuna Rao/Gulf News

Barnyard Millets

Barnyardl Millets. Image Credit: Nagarjuna Rao/Gulf News

Kodo Millets

Kodo Millet. Image Credit: Nagarjuna Rao/Gulf News

What are the neutral millets

Finger Millets

Great Millet or Sorghum

Pearl Millet