Millet: Poor man's nutritionally rich food

ADELMO FERNANDES, Vasco | MARCH 18, 2023, 11:24 PM IST

With an aim to promote millets in the state, the agriculture department organized ‘Nachneachem Fest’ at Duler farm in Mapusa on Sunday wherein people from different walks of life participated to celebrate the ‘International Year of Millets’. Millets are a group of cereal grains that belong to the Poaceae family. It’s widely consumed in developing countries throughout Africa and Asia. 

Millet, though an integral part of our diet for many generations, has been all but forgotten till recently. Today millets are considered a poor man's food. However they are highly nutritious in comparison to carbohydrate-dominated rice and wheat. Vegan meals are now trending and bringing renewed interest in millet. Millets have gained popularity in the West because they are gluten-free and boast high protein, fibre and antioxidant contents.  

Understanding the health benefits of millets, the proposal to designate ‘2023 as the Year of Millets’ was put forward to the United Nations by India which is the largest producer of millets in the world. 72 other countries supported this idea and finally, India’s initiative was successful and the year 2023 was declared the International year of millets. With this declaration hopefully the awareness about millets will grow drastically, thereby supporting and sustaining farmers in countries like India and Africa. 

Owing to the economic benefits of millets, increased consumption of millets will directly alleviate the economic status and food security of poor people around the world. The health benefits of eating millets will ensure good health and well-being. Considered an ancient grain, they are used both for human consumption and livestock and bird feed. There are reportedly about 6,000 varieties of millet throughout the world, and since they are not fussy about soil and water, they are a major source of energy and protein for more than a billion people in arid and semi-arid zone. 

They are also drought and pest resistant. Millets are known as 'food grains of the poor' because these are coarse grains. Further, these do not require adequate water and can be grown in infertile soil owing to its rocky or sandy character. 

The potential health benefits of millet include protecting cardiovascular health, preventing the onset of diabetes, helping people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and managing inflammation in the gut. Experts suggest that millets should be a part of one's daily regular diet. However they must be avoided by people with thyroid issues.



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