2023: International Year of Millets

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023). It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions.

Millets encompass a group of ancient cereals. They are not only used for human consumption but also for animal feed, alcoholic beverages production and agricultural uses.

There are different varieties of millets such as pearl, proso, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop, finger and Guinea millets as well as fonio, sorghum (or great millet) and teff.

Millets can grow on poor soils with little inputs, are resistant or tolerant to many crop diseases and pests and can survive adverse climatic conditions. 

Nutritional properties of millets

They are rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Also, they are good sources of dietary fiber, minerals such as iron, magnesium and manganese, and group B vitamins (specially B1, B2 and B9).

Health benefits of millets 

Millets are a suitable option for diabetics as they have low glycemic index and a high fiber content. This helps control blood glucose and insulin levels.

These cereals are also easy to digest. That’s why they are recommended in cases of intestinal diseases and soft food diets. People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can also consume millets as they doesn’t contain gluten.

Expanding the variety of cereals in our diet is a good strategy for the general population. Each of them has a different micronutrient profile. 

Millets are versatile since they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. For example, you can incorporate them in salads, soups, breakfast porridges, veggie burgers, etc.

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), declares that the IYM 2023 will also promote the sustainable production of millets, while highlighting their potential to provide new sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers.

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