University In Dharwad Shows How To Observe National Year Of Millets

With each passing day the effects of global warming are getting more and more prominent. Droughts across the world is one such effect. We all are aware India is no longer immune to it. Every year we see our country battle with droughts and crop failures and because of this we are witnessing a steep rise in the number of farmer suicides and malnutrition cases in rural areas. 

National Year Of Millets

India is working hard to combat global warming and a lot of steps are being taken. One of them was in January this year when the Government of India decided to observe 2018 as the "National Year of Millets." You must be wondering why Millets?

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Millet is a common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland cereals because it can grow in less fertile regions, does not require chemical fertilizers and are packed with a lot of nutrients like iron, calcium, protein, dietary fibre and vitamin B6. They have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing. Thus, millets are often called smart food or super food as they are good for the farmers as well as good for the planet

Government hopes that through observaing Year of Millets, it will give that required push for production as well as consumption of millets, which will contribute in fight against hunger and effects of climate change in the long run.

Millets In University's Mess

University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, in order to follow the government footsteps as well as promote healthy eating habits, introduced dishes made with millet in their hostel mess last month. Now the students get one dish every day made of millet be it in breakfast, lunch or dinner. The millet dishes usually include ragi malt, millet upma, jowar roti and jowar khichdi.

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 Dr RR Patil, Directorate of Extension and Director, SAMETI (North), UAS while talking to edexlive said, "We had a few reasons to introduce millet in the mess of the hostel. These days, due to consumption of junk and unhealthy food, everyone suffers from diabetes, cholesterol and other heart-related diseases. With the introduction of millet in meals, it will help students stay away from these diseases. We also plan on continuing this tradition and introducing millet in meals of upcoming batches of students as well."

Steps Taken To Promote Millets

Through Students

Though he agrees it will take time for the students to get used to its taste but according to the university students were the perfect advertisers. Once they are used to they would then encourage their parents to consume millets and through word of mouth the benefits of millets would gradually spread.

Pushing Farmers Toward Millet Cultivation

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The mail goal of UAS is to promote millet cultivation. To explain this Dr. Patil further adds," We encouraged millet cultivation because it can grow in less fertile regions without the use of chemical fertilizers. We also wanted to encourage farmers to take up organic farming. Millets are even resilient to climate change. However, there are very fewer takers for millet in the market. This is because there are only a few millet processing units in Tier II cities. The picture here is not like Bengaluru, where techies accept changes that are for the good." 

 In order to promote millet cultivation among farmers UAS has started a millet processing unit in their campus, where the farmers can process about two tonnes of millet per day at the facility at a very nominal fee.

Creating Market For The Super-food

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They have also been working on creating a market for the still under-exposed millets. Since almost a decade, the Food Science and Nutrition Department of UAS have been running a program called experiential learning for undergraduate students, here the under-graduate students have to voluntarily prepare products made of millets such as nippattu, chakali, millet cookies, ragi cookies, millet-based food mixes for sports enthusiasts and millet flours for chapati, among others. Once a week these students set up a small store to sell their value added millet product. "This way, they are able to earn an income, promote millet and gain experience in the food industry." says Dr. Patil.       

We hope more and more institutions take a cue from them and help the government promote this super-food and help the farmers and the country get rid of poverty and malnutrition.

Picture Source: The Better India; EdexLive; Beauty Bites; Agri Nation

 

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