India Plans to Launch MIIRA to Promote Millets

Guests at the Millets Exhibition on February 14, 2023, at UN Headquarters in New York. Photo: Rashad Alkhader (used with permission)

Prioritizing food security and nutrition during its 2023 G20 Presidency, India plans to launch a global initiative, Millets International Initiative on Research and Awareness (MIIRA), aimed at encouraging millet research programs and promoting consumption of the healthy grain.

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj speaking to a gathering of United Nations (UN) delegates from Member States and senior UN officials on February 14, 2023, announced India’s plans for MIIRA at a special event organized by the Permanent Mission of India to UN to launch the Millets Exhibition from February 14-17 at UN Headquarters in New York.

Kamboj who also announced the launch of millets focused, India Round Tables at UN, told the gathering “Millets are more than just foods, they are smart foods.”

Kamboj noted, “MIIRA is expected to take the lead on research and development needed to bring millets back into the mainstream and optimize the use in coming years. So, do watch this space for the details of this excellent initiative. More will follow in this year of India’s Presidency of the G20,” while quoting India’s PM Narendra Modi that the G20 will be “ambitious, decisive, inclusive, and action oriented.”

Millet varieties on display during the launch of Millets Exhibition on February 14, 2023, at UN Headquarters in New York. PHOTO: Sachin Gaur/UN News

According to Kamboj, millets are rich in vitamins and minerals and gluten free; they are environment friendly and a resilient crop ideal for small farmers in developing countries; and millets are more relevant today in the face of global food security crises. She added, “During India’s term as the G20 President, we are deeply committed to retaining this focus for the greater global good.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in her video message said, “This special exhibition can help raise awareness on the virtues of millets to address food insecurity and support the transformation of our food systems worldwide,” while underscoring that millets have been a staple for millions of people for millennia.

Led by Modi, India sponsored a proposal for International Year of Millets (IYM) 2023, following which the United Nations General Assembly, at its 75th Session in March 2021, declared 2023, the International Year of Millets.

At the opening ceremony of IYM2023 held in Rome, Italy, on December 6, 2022, India’s Minister of State for Agriculture, Shobha Karandlaje delivered Modi’s ceremonial statement that read “India will steer the IYM2023 celebrations worldwide and organize campaigns to promote the cultivation and consumption of Millets.”

While speaking to the health benefits of millets, Co-Founder and Director of MRIDA Group, Arun Nagpal, said millets are rich in calcium, fiber, protein, minerals, and other micronutrients, and can be a great source of nutrition for those with gluten intolerance, especially Celiac diseases.

He noted that while millets originated from India and Africa, they can be cultivated in different parts of the world as well. Millets are hardy, require a shorter growing period, grow in less fertile lands, and require minimal chemicals and pesticides to raise a healthy crop. “We have experimented in the past with cultivation [of millets] in parts of Hungary and see opportunities to do the same across the world in Poland, Romania and so many other countries thus providing a boost to local economies as well. Given the high value and the nutritional benefits of millets, they can, in fact, have positive implications for food security at a global level,” Nagpal underscored.

Nagpal said, “Millet advocacy is not just about promoting a particular product, or a particular grain, an organization, or a country. Rather, it is about an excellent opportunity for a multilateral platform like the United Nations to take it up and create deep lasting impact at the global level…”

Chef de Cabinet to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Earle Courtenay Rattray, also delivered special remarks at the event.



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