Quick summary: Say Hello to Millet, the wonder grain which is all set to make a comeback to our breadbasket. With 2023, being celebrated as the UN International Year of Millets and being referred to as ‘Shree Anna”, can we ask more? We need to tap into this nutrient packed and environmentally resilient grain for a sustainable future.
Millets are being splashed all over today, our traditional ragi, jowar and bajra have stormed into our worlds back again. A certain crop in an uncertain future, millets play an important role in food security and are a sustainable food option. Rooted in ancient traditions and cultures, these crops have survived difficult growing conditions and their climate resilient nature have strengthened food security, boosting economic growth. Considering these features, it is imperative that millet traceability is crucial to strengthen its value chain. Let us dive into the story of millets and how traceability can help in realizing its full potential.
Millets are a powerhouse of nutrients and have found their way back to our kitchens. Millets are coarse grains that have been traditionally grown and consumed in India for over 5000 years. An age-old concept, where they have been a part of diets until the green revolution. Millets have a high nutritional value, rich in proteins, minerals, vitamins and fibres. Unlike other cereals, millets require less water and ground fertility.
The poor man’s grain today has an enormous potential and visibility.
According to FAO, millets are a staple food in many countries in Africa and Asia with almost 800 million people consuming them as a part of their diet. Millets are of various types ranging from the pearl millet, foxtail millet, finger millets, proso millet, the kodo and the sorghum. While some millets are the naked grains, others are the husked variety.
Millets can grow in low and high altitudes and across arid lands under non-irrigated conditions with very low rainfall. They have a low water footprint and requires less water than rice and wheat. They also tolerate heat and drought making them as a perfect choice for the farmers amidst depleting natural resources and climate change. Millets need minimal inputs and are resistant to pests and diseases and have less dependency on fertilizers and pesticides. They are climate resilient and provide better livelihoods of farmers.
Millets have loads of nutritional benefits. They have a low glycaemic index and are gluten-free. They are rich in antioxidants and have dietary fibre in them.
More than 90 million people in Africa and Asia depend on millets for their diets. Africa accounts for 55% of global millet production followed by Asia with 40% and Europe represents around 3% of the world market. With the increase in environmental stress and the increasing climate crisis, this underutilised crop can be a crucial link for sustainable supply chains. The contribution of millets to food security, well-being and livelihoods is an important step in reaching the sustainable development goals.
The focus is back again on this wonder grain with 2023 being celebrated as the UN International Year of Millets.
Besides, our recent budget named millets as “Shree Anna” with India getting to be the global hub for millets
The food we eat is a tremendous source of nutrition and impacts our health. Hence people today are conscious about what they are eating. The consumers want to know about the journey of the food they eat from farm to the table. They are keen to know where the foods have been sourced and transparency on the manufacturing process and how they have been grown.
We have 130 million farmers cultivating 195 million hectares of land and agriculture employs 58% of our population. Traceability helps in building trust among the stakeholders in the supply chain be it the agriculture companies, producers, manufacturers, retailers and finally the consumers. It allows companies to follow products and goods as they move along the supply chain and record inputs on its origin, supplier sourcing practices and the manufacturing process. This real-time data capture helps organizations to streamline their processes and make informed decisions. It helps them to optimize supply chain operations and minimize the impact of internal and external disruptions. The products are also validated and certified on their sustainability practices followed.
Traceability can also facilitate tracking of environmental; economic and social aspects of agriculture production processes bringing in transparency and accountability. It helps farmers to get better market access and capital. Traceability helps to create value in the supply chains for all the players and addresses challenges in food wastage.
Traceability is a critical tool for increasing transparency across food supply chains complying to operational standards and regulations. Blockchain traceability solutions provide a cutting edge to the various problems in food supply chains. The digital ledgers provide immutable data and builds trust among the players in the ecosystem. Real-time data capture and storage helps in product recalls and reducing food losses in the supply chain.
TraceX works with a number of organizations and consumer brands, enabling them with blockchain powered traceability solutions. TraceX’s Trace Gro and Trace Pro provide both pre-harvest and post-harvest solutions to realize end to end traceability of a produce in the value chain. The Farm management solutions helps the producers to adopt sustainable practices and keep a record of them. The harvest dashboards helps farmers to gain actionable insights. The post-harvest solutions streamline the manufacturing, quality and inventory processes and assure visibility and higher operational efficiency in the millet supply chain.
Svojas farms is a health-conscious brand that provides gluten-free plant-based food alternatives and focusses on locally produced sustainable products. It aims at introducing nutritious millets into people’s daily diets, thereby promoting the well-being of all. Svojas uses TraceX’s blockchain powered system to realize complete traceability and a farm to fork story of their products. Svojas is able to showcase the end to end journey of their products with a scannable QR code, that allows consumers to experience the transparency of the product flow.
Nekram Sharma, Himachal’s sole Padma Shri awardee in 2023 who has revived the cultivation of millets says,” What could have been a better occasion to get recognised for decades of hard work put into preservation of crops when the world is celebrating International Year of Millets.”
Millets are a nutritional powerhouse that can be stored for a long time. Millets can be a part of the solution for growing food insecurity. They provide a nutritious alternative to the other grains available in the market. Reviving the under-utilization of these crops can foster better livelihoods for small-scale farmers. The ability of millets to grow in degraded soils provides land cover in arid areas, thereby reducing soil degradation and supporting biodiversity.
Today Millets account for less than 3 % of global grains trade, this can be altered by providing it as an alternative to the normally traded grains like rice and wheat. This will also improve the resiliency in global markets. Millets have found their way into a number of innovative food products, building greater market opportunities globally.
Do you know millets are good for consumption even after 10 to 12 years of growing?
They have the potential of sustainable market opportunities for both the producer and the consumer. So let us all put in our efforts to bring this magic grain back to our food basket and ensure a safe, secure and a healthy future for all