New Delhi: The International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Government of Assam, India, have joined forces to advance climate-resilient and nutritionally enhanced food systems through the Assam Millet Mission.
At the heart of the partnership is Assam’s goal of boosting the cultivation, production and consumption of three native millet crops: Finger millet (Maruadhan), Foxtail millet (Kauni Dhan), and Proso millet (Cheena Bajra).
Presently, millets are only cultivated across 6,000 hectares of land in 15 districts of Assam, including Nagaon, Bongaigaon, and Dhubri, contributing 97 per cent of the State’s millet production.
Given Assam’s vulnerability to floods and its ancient preference for rice over millets, there’s a growing imperative to transition toward diversified agriculture that incorporates resilient and nutritious millets.
Director General of ICRISAT Dr Jacqueline Hughes, lauded the partnership and hailed the Millet Mission as pioneering, particularly considering the region’s limited history of millet consumption.
“As the world’s largest millet producer and a driving force behind the International Year of Millets 2023, India stands at the forefront of the resurgence of millets.”
“ICRISAT is delighted to contribute its deep expertise in millet research to complement Assam’s visionary approach and ambitious millet value chain targets,” said Dr Hughes.
The project will commence by introducing three millet types grown in Assam and will continue along the value chain to include:
empowering stakeholders through extensive training in various areas, such as farming practices, seed production, and new recipe development;
developing and implementing a strategic plan to promote the marketing and export of millets and millet-based products from Assam; and
developing and introducing scientifically validated nutritious millet-based recipes, ready-to-eat (RTE) and ready-to-cook (RTC) food products, adapted to local taste preferences, into the Prime Ministers’ PM-POSHAN Scheme (mid-day meal scheme for children in government primary and upper primary schools, and Anganwadis or government-funded child and mother care centers.