Feisty entrepreneurs impart fascinating twist to humble millets

Millets on display during Krishi Mela at Gandhi Krushi Vignana Kendra, in University of Agricultural Sciences, in Bengaluru.

Millets on show throughout Krishi Mela at Gandhi Krushi Vignana Kendra, in College of Agricultural Sciences, in Bengaluru.
| Photograph Credit score:
Sudhakara Jain

India is a nation of rice eaters, and those that don’t eat rice, choose wheat. That was the overall notion, and our status abroad, till the federal government of India found the well being advantages of millets. Since then, the meals menu in some components of the nation has been witnessing a change that would ultimately push rice and wheat to the sting of our plate.

The federal government is so satisfied of the advantages – by way of well being, vitamin, cultivation and atmosphere – of the crop that the United Nations was persuaded to declare 2023 because the Worldwide Yr of Millets.

The story will get much more attention-grabbing. Though a minimal assist worth is introduced yearly, some farmers choose to promote their crop within the open market. The crop is being bought straight from farmers by entrepreneurs.

The difficult half right here is that entrepreneurs need to provide you with consumer-friendly merchandise as a result of millets will not be as pleasant to the palate as rice and wheat.

But, one thing is driving increasingly more entrepreneurs to take up this problem.

One such entrepreneur is Meghana Narayan, primarily based in Delhi, who had grown up consuming ragi (finger millet). “I grew up in Bengaluru. I used to swim competitively.”

There’s a big distinction within the physique of a median particular person and a sportsperson. You want a a lot stronger physique and numerous stamina to have the ability to compete with the most effective. Attaining this physique and stamina necessitates greater consumption of meals. Not simply any meals, however nutritious meals that strengthens your physique and improves stamina.

Meghana says, “However, I didn’t have any particular weight loss program that sportspersons have these days. Simply plain ragi porridge. I used to eat a bowl of ragi porridge each day. And, I used to be ok to characterize Karnataka and India in a number of competitions (within the Nineties).”

Later, when she was going to have a toddler, she started on the lookout for wholesome meals choices. The search made her conscious of a spot available in the market. In 2016, she co-founded Slurrp Farm with Shauravi Malik, who’s half-Kannadiga.

Meghana Narayan and Shauravi Malik co-founded Slurrp Farm in 2016. They started with a list of 100 things that ‘we would not add in any product based on what we didn’t want to feed our own children’. They ended up offering products based on millets.

Meghana Narayan and Shauravi Malik co-founded Slurrp Farm in 2016. They began with a listing of 100 issues that ‘we might not add in any product primarily based on what we didn’t wish to feed our personal youngsters’. They ended up providing merchandise primarily based on millets.

“We’re type of two mums who began this after we realised there have been simply no wholesome choices available in the market for youngsters. We at the moment are very a lot a millet firm, however that was not our intention. We didn’t got down to be a millet firm. We simply needed to make wholesome choices for youngsters each time from after they began consuming solids. We felt that the majority merchandise in that vary for youngsters are fabricated from maida (all goal flour), full of refined sugar and synthetic colors, and preservatives. An entire bunch of excessive salt, excessive sugar type of factor. So first, it was a bit of bit about making an attempt to create merchandise, which didn’t have any of those. We made a listing of 100 issues that we might not add in any product primarily based on what we didn’t wish to feed our personal youngsters. Possibly you want outsiders to ask the actually dumbo questions (to FMCG corporations) – like why do it is advisable use soy lecithin? Why do you want this or that? These type of actually primary primary questions, which possibly in case you had been within the meals trade, you wouldn’t have requested.

“Finally, I realised that the solutions lay in our mom’s and grandmother’s kitchens.”

The driving pressure of millets could also be vitamin and well being, however there are a lot of entrepreneurs who will let you know that merely providing wholesome choices didn’t straight translate right into a profitable enterprise.

Sreejith Moolayil, co-founder of Pune-based True Components, says, “Evolution-wise, we’re pushed by our tongue. That’s our major filtering mechanism. How a lot ever we harp on well being, style comes first. I arrange two start-ups in a bid to promote wholesome meals. I needed to shut down each. Look, Indians love their meals. However, they need it to look a sure manner and style a sure manner. If it’s also wholesome, that’s only a bonus.”

Little question, wholesome life-style is trending these days. You see 1000’s of photographs on Instagram, you learn thousands and thousands of articles on wholesome meals and consuming, and everybody talks of how they’ve taken a aware resolution to comply with a wholesome life-style.

Sreejith was taken in by all of the speak and images. He thought he would have a profitable enterprise by catering to those folks. When his first start-up did not take off, he found out his errors and promptly arrange one other start-up catering to the identical health-conscious phase.

However, when the second start-up too did not take off, he realised that he had not interpreted the teachings from the failure of the primary start-up appropriately.

In a inhabitants of 140 crore (1.4 billion) folks, the variety of health-conscious Indians, who would truly put their cash the place their mouth is, was not sufficient to maintain his enterprise mannequin. He realised that Indians like to speak a couple of wholesome life-style, however received’t change their consuming habits, irrespective of how unhealthy the meals they eat.

How did India turn into a nation of rice eaters?

Based on Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, millets are the standard meals of India, and will be grown in troublesome terrain too.

A farmer with his bajra (Pearl Millet) crop. Millets are the traditional crop of India, and can be grown in difficult terrain too. 

A farmer along with his bajra (Pearl Millet) crop. Millets are the standard crop of India, and will be grown in troublesome terrain too. 

A while within the Nineteen Sixties, India determined to go in for a ‘Inexperienced Revolution’. Agriculture was become an trade with the goal of guaranteeing self-sufficiency in foodgrains. The Inexperienced Revolution centered on growing cultivation of rice and wheat.

After independence, for round 2 a long time India was bothered by famine, floods and drought, which resulted in meals scarcity. Overseas nations supplied support within the type of wheat and rice. Later, the federal government started importing wheat and rice. As import of the 2 commodities proved costly, the federal government determined to spend money on growing manufacturing in India. India invested in R&D and irrigation community, and supplied a assure to buy the crop.

Abhishek Jain, Fellow and Director — Powering Livelihoods at Delhi-based Council on Vitality, Setting and Water, says, “We got here up with higher forms of rice and wheat, supplied electrical energy to facilitate pumping of water, and farmers had been assured of procurement, which implies the market danger was taken care of.”

With farmers who opted for cultivation of rice and wheat reporting a rise in earnings, millets had been sidelined. Within the final 60 years, the realm below millet cultivation has gone down from roughly 35 million hectares to fifteen million hectares.

The millets household
Main millets

Sorghum (Jowar)

Pearl Millet (Bajra)

Finger Millet (Ragi/Mandua)

Minor millets

Kodo Millet (Kodo)

Proso Millet (Cheena)

Foxtail Millet (Kangani/Kakun)

Little Millet (Kutki)

Barnyard Millet (Sawa/Sanwa/ Jhangora)

Pseudo millets

Amaranth (Chaulai)

Buck-wheat (Kuttu)

Supply: Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

Within the 2000s, speak of local weather change and its implications sowed the seeds of a motion to reverse this development. The federal government of India had a change of coronary heart on the Inexperienced Revolution, which was mirrored in an initiative in 2010 to deal with cultivation and consumption of millets.

Truly, the federal government was not doing something new; it was merely going again to what Indian farmers had been cultivating earlier than the Inexperienced Revolution.

Impression of rice on the meals plate, well being of Indians and our pure assets

Former Niti Aayog CEO and India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant says millets are wealthy in micronutrients.

They are often grown in comparatively dry areas, want much less water than rice and wheat, have higher tolerance to warmth as in comparison with rice and wheat, and are wealthy in vitamins.

Whereas rice and wheat launch glucose into the blood stream in a burst, millets launch glucose in a gradual method, which makes them a very good cereal for diabetics.

The interval when the variety of Indians bothered by diabetes went up was additionally the time when folks had been migrating in growing numbers to cities the place rice and wheat had been extra simply accessible, as in comparison with millets.

In March 2021, Amitabh Kant posted a tweet to spotlight the impression of rice and wheat on India’s water assets.

Even when rhetorical, this tweet aptly sums up the impression of the cultivation of rice and wheat on our water assets, particularly when India isn’t missing in higher options by way of foodgrains.

The cultivation of rice and wheat necessitates use of extra water when in comparison with millets. India has been investing some huge cash in bettering the irrigation community for its farmers who domesticate rice and wheat. However, if cultivation of millets will be accomplished with a lot much less water, and millets are extra nutritious than rice and wheat, why is India pouring funds into constructing dams and canals that invariably additionally contain displacement of individuals?

The problem in altering meals habits of Indians now

The circumstances right now are very totally different from what they had been within the Nineteen Sixties. Within the Nineteen Sixties, India was battling famines and meals scarcity. Individuals would eat no matter was accessible. It was not very troublesome to influence them to shift from millets to rice or wheat.

In 2023, Indians are a really totally different lot. They haven’t seen and even heard of meals scarcity within the final 40 years. The present era takes meals availability with no consideration. Rice and wheat are the staple of Indian households. Numerous preparations of rice and wheat dominate meals cabinets in supermarkets.

So, millets could also be good for the atmosphere, for financial causes, for saving our treasured water assets and even health-wise, however these causes is probably not sufficient to influence a era of Indians, who’re spoilt for selection, to shift to millets.

Meals is a sensitive situation. A demonetisation-like change-overnight technique is not going to work.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a lunch hosted in Parliament where millet dishes were served to mark the declaration of 2023 as International Year of Millets, in New Delhi, on December 20, 2022. 

Chief of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a lunch hosted in Parliament the place millet dishes had been served to mark the declaration of 2023 as Worldwide Yr of Millets, in New Delhi, on December 20, 2022. 

A distinct technique was vital. So, whereas India has been selling millets since 2010, the federal government proposed celebrating 2023 because the ‘Worldwide Yr of Millets’, which was accepted by the United Nations Common Meeting (UNGA). After the announcement, the Indian authorities took the lead in celebrating the ‘Worldwide Yr of Millets’.

Declaration by the UN of celebrating 2023 because the ‘Worldwide Yr of Millets’ has drawn the eye of all the world to the common-or-garden foodgrain. This results in era of numerous content material worldwide on millets.

Indians, as everyone knows, generally tend to contemplate all the things that comes from the West to be superior. The considering of Indians is – If the Western media says that millets are good, they should be telling the reality. By way of advertising technique, you’ll be able to’t get higher than this.

However, Sreejith will let you know that Indians is likely to be joyful to learn all in regards to the well being advantages of millets within the media, however that doesn’t essentially translate to them altering their meals consuming habits.

“My second start-up shut down as a result of everybody thought folks need wholesome in-between snacks and drinks. We put up a sequence of kiosks inside corporations to serve that. Then, we realised that individuals who need wholesome meals are only a few. Individuals truly need tasty meals that could possibly be wholesome.

“In India, two issues are vital in terms of meals:

  1. The way in which it appears
  2. The way in which it tastes

“Well being comes after that.

“If we will crack these two factors, then persons are open to experiment.

“Take, for instance, poha, which is fabricated from rice and may be very fashionable in a number of components of India. If we introduce jowar poha, folks suppose: jowar doesn’t style good, it appears totally different. Ought to I even attempt?

“So first, I have to make my product appear to be rice. Then, I have to make it style like rice.

“As soon as I’ve accomplished these, I can inform the patron — Do that.

“If our jowar product matches the rice, adoption shall be faster.

“We’re centered on doing that.”

“Each month, we launch 3-4 merchandise. In 1 / 4, we pull again as much as 9 merchandise. We now have 2 occasions extra failed merchandise than what you see in our stock now.

“Let me let you know about one among our experiments. We thought that the majority of India begins breakfast with savoury merchandise. Not spicy, delicate spicy, however savoury type of merchandise.

“Take Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. They might be nice with a sweet-kinda breakfast. However, remainder of India need one thing that’s not sweet-kinda stuff.

“Now, all of the Western breakfast choices – muesli, oats, granola – are candy. So, that’s not meant for India. So, let’s launch a muesli that’s savoury. We launched a chatpata muesli that’s savoury.

“We invested rather a lot, and we anticipated big success. However, that product has not been promoting.

“We thought we had the best product for this market – muesli that’s not candy.

“However what shoppers thought is — muesli is nice. If we promote a product that we name muesli, it can’t be savoury.

“And after we advised, ‘you could have this with dahi’, shoppers stated: ‘Within the morning, I don’t have dahi as a base. I might need a bowl of dahi, however dahi can’t be the bottom’.”

Such experiences have formed the enterprise technique of Sreejith. True Components doesn’t introduce new merchandise. At the very least, not overtly. The group prefers to supply options to current fast-moving merchandise.

“Once we launched a brand new product, we needed to make a client conscious of

  1. Why ought to we eat this
  2. When will we eat this
  3. The best way to eat this

“It’s an enormous mountain to climb. That’s after we realised, let’s not create a brand new class. Let’s simply not launch a product the place a client asks when and the right way to eat this.

“I’d reasonably give a poha fabricated from jowar. You understand how poha appears. You ways poha tastes. You understand how to eat poha. You already know when to eat poha. So, I offers you jowar poha.”

True Elements, based in Pune, identifies popular items and comes up with healthier alternatives while keeping the look and taste as close to the original as possible.

True Components, primarily based in Pune, identifies fashionable gadgets and comes up with more healthy options whereas retaining the look and style as near the unique as doable.

True Components invests numerous effort and time at their R&D centre and manufacturing unit in Pune to get the style as near the unique as doable.

Sreejith says, “Mimicking the style of wheat or maida with millet is one thing we’re but to crack. We now have not even tried making cookies as a result of they style a sure manner.”

Style, subsequently, is what you might be up in opposition to if you end up within the meals enterprise with the goal of fixing the meals habits of your goal shoppers.

Meghana says, “I used to eat a bowl of ragi porridge each day. It was God-awful tasting. But, right here I used to be, confronted with the problem of persuading my potential client to do that stuff. The extra we researched, the method of the right way to make these actually tasty turned vital to us. Once we interviewed moms, they had been like, we purchased plenty of well being meals merchandise as soon as. The message was – the meals might have been wholesome, however they weren’t tasty.

“So, the thought was like, no matter we make must be actually tasty. We work actually arduous at this. It took us virtually two years to get our first merchandise out. We launched with toddler cereals and cookies. The bottom grain was millet, and we’ve by no means regarded again since then. We’ve been doing millets since 2015-16.”

How entrepreneurs attain their prospects

True Components sells 75% of their merchandise via Amazon and different on-line platforms whereas the remainder is routed via retails chains in south & west India. In 2022, FMCG main Marico took a 54% stake in True Components. Marico isn’t interested by advertising the merchandise of True Components, however is determining the net market that the relatively-young-company operates in.

Slurrp Farm sells on Amazon, however their merchandise are additionally accessible in 1,200-odd shops throughout India. Meghana says, “The plan is to get that to about 10,000 shops by 2026.” Slurrp Farm has raised over $10 million (approx ₹80 crore) within the final 5 years.

In distinction, Siri Millets is a model that you’re extra prone to see in retail shops as in comparison with on-line. Compared to True Components and Slurrp Farm, 80% of the enterprise of Siri Millets is thru stores in Karnataka.

Siri Millets is an initiative of Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Growth Mission (SKDRDP). It was based on the philosophy that Indians want a foodgrain that’s wholesome, is nutritious, and is environment-friendly.

D. Veerendra Heggade (centre), administrator of the Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatha Swamy temple in Dharmasthala, chose a holistic approach. His team researched millets and farmers who grow the crop. Based on the findings, their first step was to set up a processing unit in Dharwad, in north Karnataka.

D. Veerendra Heggade (centre), administrator of the Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatha Swamy temple in Dharmasthala, selected a holistic method. His group researched millets and farmers who develop the crop. Primarily based on the findings, their first step was to arrange a processing unit in Dharwad, in north Karnataka.

Wholesome was a driving issue at SKDRDP as a result of Siri Millets was the brainchild of D. Veerendra Heggade, administrator of the Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatha Swamy temple in Dharmasthala, Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, and a member of the Rajya Sabha. His household belief runs a number of academic establishments, and he’s conscious of the approach to life illnesses that plague the present era. SKDRDP is likely one of the initiatives of D. Veerendra Heggade.

The pursuit of a more healthy life-style for Indians led his group to millets. Being a philanthropist and social employee all his life, D. Veerendra Heggade selected a holistic method. His group researched millets and farmers who develop the crop. Primarily based on the findings of their analysis, they started by organising a processing unit in Dharwad, in north Karnataka, to course of millets. The mill processes millets procured straight from farmers, providing them a possibility to value-add to their crop, and thus, encourages cultivation of millets.

This technique is aligned with what the federal government needs to realize.

Dr B. Dayakar Rao, Principal Scientist at Indian Institute of Millet Analysis (IIMR) in Hyderabad, says, “To date, farmers had been rising millets just for their very own consumption. However now, the federal government of India needs them to commercialise the crop. One of many constraints for millet farmers was the shortage of processing expertise. There was no incentive to develop greater than what the household of the farmer wanted. Even the federal government’s earlier insurance policies didn’t assist. Authorities introduced an MSP, however didn’t procure millets. Authorities solely procured rice and wheat, which created an incentive to develop extra rice and wheat. With millets, there was by no means a constraint of provide. The one constraint was demand. With out demand, there was no incentive to develop processing expertise for millets. Proper now, the federal government is doing all it might to advertise millet cultivation and consumption.”

Historically, millets have been related to farmers and other people from the decrease strata of society whereas well-heeled folks most popular rice and wheat. However, in its new avatar, millets are being described by the federal government of India as nutricereals — foodgrains that present a lot of the vitamins required by people.

One other vital step was organising Nutrihub to encourage budding entrepreneurs who had been working with nutricereals (millets). Nutrihub is hosted at IIMR with Dr Dayakar Rao because the CEO. Its goal is to ‘commercialise improvements and startups within the nutricereals trade’.

Dr Dayakar Rao says, “Nutrihub brings collectively stakeholders within the millet sector. During the last 5 years, a business facet of millet cultivation has emerged, which is nice for you (client), good for enterprise, good for the planet (atmosphere) and good for the farmer.”

The best way to carry down resistance to alter

Because the mill arrange by D. Veerendra Heggade started delivering varied millet-based merchandise, they had been bought below the model Siri Millets, for which SKDRDP arrange a distribution channel throughout Karnataka.

Although the thought of Siri Millets was conceived in 2018, it took them two years to fine-tune their merchandise, which at the moment are available in shops throughout Karnataka. The corporate has recorded annual income of ₹10 crore.

The enterprise is overseen by D. Dinesh who works from an workplace in Hubballi, in north Karnataka, which is arguably the largest millet-growing area in India.

One in all their attention-grabbing merchandise, which is obtainable on-line, is a 7-day trial pack, which is packaged as a nutri basket. This product is targetted at individuals who undergo from three illnesses – diabetes, weight problems and PCOD. These had been recognized throughout analysis on the most important illnesses afflicting Indians. An individual should buy this trial pack, which includes a weight loss program for 7 days. A glad buyer is prone to veer in the direction of millets.

One of many main challenges confronted by the corporate whereas advertising millets was a query by shoppers – in what type will we eat millets. Rice is consumed in a meal, as a dosa, as idli. Wheat is most frequently consumed within the type of a roti. However, how do folks eat millets?

Siri Millets turned this downside into a possibility.

Siri Millets has set up a studio to make videos to accompany the launch of each product. The video explains the health benefits and recipes for each product to help with easy adoption by the consumer.

Siri Millets has arrange a studio to make movies to accompany the launch of every product. The video explains the well being advantages and recipes for every product to assist with simple adoption by the patron.

Dinesh says, “The launch of any product is accompanied by consciousness materials via varied media – on-line and offline. Apart from well being advantages, the notice materials consists of complete directions on the right way to make a meal from a product. This has ensured that each one our merchandise discover takers.”

Slurrp Farm is determined by their mates and followers to check every new product. It isn’t foolproof, however it works for probably the most half.

Meghana says, “We now have a group of moms throughout the nation who attempt our merchandise and provides in depth suggestions. We don’t ever launch a product until it comes again with a powerful Sure! Regardless of this, there shall be merchandise that don’t take off.”

True Components focuses on its core philosophy of wholesome merchandise. The corporate identifies fashionable gadgets and comes up with more healthy options whereas retaining the look and style as near the unique as doable.

Sreejith says, “If you’re consuming dosa, and the identical style is accessible in ragi dosa, you’ll really feel cool, that I’m consuming one thing wholesome. Then, you’ll keep on with it. We’re giving one thing that’s wholesome and engaging.”

The corporate started with oats, which is taken into account very wholesome within the West. Oats are imported. Issues with importing pressured Sreejith’s group to have a look at options in India.

“Once we entered the market, oats was synonymous with well being. We began off as and had been an oats model for 1-1/2 years. When there was an import situation with oats, we regarded for Indian options. We found jowar. The identical farmer was additionally rising ragi and bajra. Thus started our discovery of the wholesome foodgrains of India. Immediately, 60% of our merchandise have millets.”

Dr Dayakar Rao says, “However, we’re not saying cease consuming rice and solely eat millet. We’re saying twice every week, change your rice with millet. Rice and wheat are grown elsewhere on this planet, however millets are our major crop. India accounts for 20% of world manufacturing, 80% in Asia, and is the biggest exporter. Millets are a resilient crop. They will stand up to excessive temperature, which places them in a greater place to face the impression of local weather change. Then again, a rise in temperature impacts the yield of rice and wheat.”

Abhishek Jain, Fellow & Director – Powering Livelihoods, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

Abhishek Jain, Fellow & Director – Powering Livelihoods, Council on Vitality, Setting and Water (CEEW).

Abhishek Jain of CEEW says, “In 2022, wheat manufacturing was down 15% due to warmth waves and the early onset of summer time. This impacted high quality and likewise productiveness of the crop. As compared, we’ve got a crop like bajra (pearl millet), which is grown in Rajasthan. Bajra has greater tolerance to warmth. On the identical time, the inputs – water and fertilizers – are a lot lesser for bajra when in comparison with wheat and rice. Nevertheless, the productiveness per acre of bajra is way lesser than rice and wheat. However, to be truthful, we’ve got not invested something in growing the productiveness of millets, particularly when in comparison with rice and wheat.”

Why millets are trending

But, for these interested by how millets fared after being relegated to much less fertile areas, listed below are some attention-grabbing numbers.

Dr Dayakar Rao says, “Within the final 60 years, the realm of cultivation for millets went down from 35 million hectares (1960-65) to fifteen million (2023) hectares. With the federal government procuring rice and wheat, they had been seen as commercially worthwhile crops. Rice and wheat received the most effective cultivable land whereas millets had been relegated to much less fertile land. But, manufacturing went up from 15 million tonnes (1960-65) to 17 million tonnes (2023). Going by this, as a substitute of consuming rice and wheat, India ought to be championing millets.”

For the file

Calcium ranges in millets are very excessive in comparison with milk

 Millets are a very good supply of iron

 Millets are freed from gluten

 For diabetics, glycemic index in millets is medium kind, and is decrease than in rice and wheat

 Millets don’t launch carbs instantly, however step by step making it simpler on your physique to soak up gl

Meghana says, “These grains (millets) are born natural. They’re nutritionally tremendous. So excessive in calcium, I’ll always remember the primary time I noticed a dietary desk for ragi. I believed there was a typo, just like the decimal was within the unsuitable place. That’s the type of calcium stage.”

Vitamin desk

Grains Carb (g) Protein (g) Fats (g) Calcium (mg) Potassium (mg) Magnesium (mg) Zing (mg) Iron (mg) Folic acid (µg)
Sorghum (Jowar) 67.7 9.9 1.73 27.6 274 133 1.9 3.9 39.4
Pearl Millet (Bajra) 61.8 10.9 5.43 27.4 289 124 2.7 6.4 36.1
Finger Millet (Ragi/Mandua) 66.8 7.2 1.92 364.0 210 146 2.5 4.6 34.7
Kodo Millet (Kodo) 66.2 8.9 2.55 15.3 101 122 1.6 2.3 39.5
Proso Millet (Cheena) 70.4 12.5 1.10 14.0 2.06 153 1.4 0.8
Foxtail Millet (Kangani/Kakun) 60.1 12.3 4.30 31.0 188 81 2.4 2.8 15
Little Millet 65.5 10.1 3.89 16.1 130 91 1.8 1.2 36.2
Barnyard Millet (Sawa/Sanwa/ Jhangora) 65.5 6.2 2.20 20.0 280 82 3.0 5.0
Amaranth seed (Chaulai) 61 13.3 5.60 162.0 412 270 2.8 8.0 24.7
Wheat 64.7 10.6 1.47 39.4 315 125 2.8 3.9 30.1
Rice 78.2 7.9 0.52 7.5 96 19 1.2 0.6 9.32
Supply: FSSAI & Indian Meals Composition Tables, 2017

If millets yield the well being advantages they promise, Indians might have a future with fewer life-style illnesses, which may translate into lesser medical bills.

Sreejith believes that shifting to millets would possibly even carry down the stress on India’s medical infrastructure.

The advantages of cultivating millets for farmers and the soil

Based on Prof. Nagaraja T.E., Division of Genetics and Plant Breading at UAS-Bengaluru, “Millets require decrease quantities of fertilizers when in comparison with rice and wheat. Historically, millets have been a climate-resilient crop, and will be grown in virtually any a part of India. They don’t want a lot water or fertilizers. Relative to rice and wheat, they’re much less impacted by weeds or bugs, which implies less-to-no pesticide.”

If all this sounds too good to be true, analyse the economics of cultivating millets.

Historically, farmers don’t make investments some huge cash whereas cultivating millets. For one, there is no such thing as a cause to. There is no such thing as a marketplace for millets; a lot of the crop is for the consumption of the farmer’s household. The federal government doesn’t purchase millets, and neither does any personal firm. So, no level actually in investing cash on fertilizers or pesticides.

Then again, there may be numerous fact within the quantity of pesticides that go into cultivation of rice and wheat with the goal of maximising manufacturing.

Abhishek Jain says, “Why did farmers in Punjab begin rising rice? Due to an eco-system created round rice. On the enter facet, we got here up with higher number of rice, supplied electrical energy to facilitate pumping of water, and farmers had been assured of procurement, which implies the market danger was taken care of. Now, an eco-system has to created for a extra diversified cropping sample.”

In Karnataka, efforts to create such an eco-system started in 2017.

Venkatramreddy Patil, Extra Director (natural farming), Authorities of Karnataka (GoK), says, “Millets got here to the eye of officers in 2004 when GoK was selling natural farming. Natural farming took off in Karnataka, however millets didn’t get any particular consideration. In 2017, when GoK was on the lookout for drought resistant crops, millets as soon as once more got here into the image. GoK is selling cultivation and consumption of millets for 3 causes:

  1. They’re drought resistant, much less inclined to the impression of local weather change
  2. They’re nutritious
  3. They’re good for the planet as a result of they require much less water in comparison with rice and wheat; they don’t require pesticides, which is nice for the soil

Most farmers develop millets for their very own consumption. If they need further earnings, they wanted to develop different crops. This is able to additional cut back the realm for cultivation of millets. To arrest this shift to different crops, GoK started providing incentives to farmers who grew the lesser-known millets. However, there have been no takers for surplus inventory. So, GoK began encouraging the organising of meals processing models centered on millets. These models buy the excess and convert them into merchandise, like dosa batter or cookies, that may be bought to shoppers via retail shops.”

There are makes an attempt in Karnataka to distribute millets via the general public distribution system (PDS). However, officers have seen that some farmers are reluctant to promote to the federal government on the minimal assist worth (MSP). Whereas dependable information isn’t accessible, officers imagine that some farmers are getting a greater worth for sure forms of millets within the open market.

Which brings us to the entrepreneurs who’re shopping for millets straight from farmers, and turning them into consumer-friendly merchandise on the market in stores within the open market.

Nutrihub of IIMR alone is incubating round 300 start-ups centered on millets.

And, these entrepreneurs are catering to a rising urge for food amongst Indians to discover the useful points of millets.

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