The humble millet is now a key player in India’s mission to become a global millet hub!
As we enter the kitchen each morning, our minds are set on creating a wholesome and nourishing breakfast to fuel us for the day ahead. Gone are the days when we relied on traditional Indian breakfast options like poha, upma, dosa, and idli for our dose of nutrition. Recently, a new hero has emerged in the world of cereals – the humble millet. Jowar, bajra, and ragi have now become the go-to options for many health-conscious individuals, and for a good reason.
Millet has taken the food industry by storm and is not limited to India. People worldwide are recognising the immense health benefits of this millet and are incorporating it into their diets. From millet dosas to millet parathas, millet cookies, popcorn, and even millet porridge, there seems to be no end to the creativity achieved with millets.
This newfound appreciation for millet has even caught the attention of the United Nations, which has declared 2023 the International Year of the Millet. And it’s not just the UN; the Indian government has also recognised millets’ importance and pledged to make India the global hub for millets. Even giants like ITC, Nestle, Britannia, Tata and HUL are investing in millet-based products.
But millet’s popularity doesn’t just end with food. Breweries have also jumped on the bandwagon, creating gluten-free beer using this versatile grain. With so much attention being given to millets, it’s safe to say that this ancient grain has finally found its rightful place in modern times.
What Made the Humble Millets a Superfood of 2023?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, food prices are skyrocketing, making healthy diets unaffordable for 3.1 billion people in 2020. The average cost of a healthy diet globally in 2020 was $3.54 per person per day, 3.3% and 6.7% more than in 2019 and 2017, respectively.
In another report by FAO , they state that many middle-income countries have set rules on how much some crops should be sold for. They mostly do this for cereals like wheat, corn, rice, and sugar, which are commonly used. But sometimes, these rules can make it harder for people to eat healthy.
Hence, the UN has declared 2023 as the year of millet! This ancient, nutrient-rich grain is healthy and eco-friendly, making it a sustainable option for farmers and the environment.
Why Are Millets Considered Healthy?
Now millets are cereals like rice and wheat. We know that cereals are rich in carbohydrates. But millet has a higher composition of essential minerals and vitamins and is a rich source of protein, fibre, iron and calcium. Millet is not only a superfood but also diabetes-friendly with a low glycemic index. Plus, it’s eco-friendly as it needs less water and chemicals to grow and is less prone to spoilage.
Companies Expanding Their Millet Product Basket
The eat-healthy has caught major FMCG players, like Britannia and Nestle India, releasing ragi-based snacks. Marico is acquiring a 54% stake in True Elements, a brand specialising in millet products. ITC has also jumped on the bandwagon by adding millet flours to its range and promising to incorporate more millet-based items into its restaurant menus. Meanwhile, Tata Consumer Products has gone one step further, launching Tata Soulfull, a brand devoted entirely to the power of millets.
There was a time when millet production was higher than rice and wheat. But then came the green revolution when the government introduced high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat. As farmers made good money by sowing rice and wheat, why would they think of millet otherwise?
If India wants to reverse the process and emerge as a global hub for millet, the government will have to intervene in creating demand and offering incentives to farmers. The government has funded 66 millet-focused startups with investments exceeding a cumulative Rs 6.25 crores.
With such significant initiatives, the future of millet seems healthy and delicious!
*The companies mentioned in the article are for informational purposes only. This is not investment advice.
That’s it for today. We hope you’ve found this article informative. Remember to tell your friends about the health benefits of millet. Until we meet again, stay curious!