International Year of Millets 2023
An Ancestral Crop with High Nutritional Value
In March 2021, the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Millet is an ancestral crop with a rich history of consumption for about 8000 years in Northern China and India, as well as in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a cereal belonging to the grass family and is known for its high nutritional value.
FAO Leads the Celebration of the International Year of Millets
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been designated as the lead agency to celebrate the International Year of Millets in collaboration with other stakeholders.
Diverse Group of Grains
What is referred to as “millet” encompasses a diverse group of grains including pearl millet, proso, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, brown top, finger, as well as fonio, sorghum (or large millet), and teff. These grains are known for their ability to grow on dry soils with minimal fertilizer inputs and resistance to climate change.
Potential Solution for Food Self-Sufficiency
The UN sees millet as a potential solution to increase food self-sufficiency in developing countries and reduce their dependence on imported grains. India is one of the largest exporters of millet globally, with an annual production of 10 million tons. It is followed by Nigeria (5 million tons), Niger (about 3 million), China (1,620,000), Mali (1,152,331), Burkina Faso (1,109,000), Sudan (1,090,000), Ethiopia (807,056), Chad (582,000) and Senegal (572,155).
FAO Director-General’s Remarks
FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu stressed the importance of millet in achieving sustainable development, eliminating hunger, adapting to climate change, promoting biodiversity, and transforming agrifood systems.
“Millet is an incredible ancestral crop with high nutritional value. Millet can play an important role and contribute to our collective efforts to empower smallholder farmers”
Introducing the International Year of Millet, he called for all participants to work together efficiently and effectively to ensure the success of the International Year of Millets 2023 “with fruitful actions and impactful outcomes”.
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