Cultivate Millets, Save Soil and Strengthen Sustainable Agriculture in Bharat and Africa
Cultivate Millets, Save Soil and Strengthen Sustainable Agriculture in Bharat and Africa
Prof. Suresh Kumar
Millets are declared as nutria-cereals with the consistent efforts of Bharat in the UNO. Bharat has launched the millet global movement entitles Shree Anna to benefit the large section of society. The history of richest civilization of the last 5000 years of Bharat i.e., India have been procured the millets in everyday people’s lives. ICRIER mentions that ‘some of the oldest Yajurveda texts mentions the foxtail millet (priyangava), barnyard millet (aanaya) and black finger millet (Shyaamaka) and indicated the consumption pattern of millets from predating to the Bhartiya Bronze Age of about 4500 BC’ (2023). Steve Weber remarked that ‘the importance and influence of small millets during the Indus civilization is increasingly evident. The presence of both wild and cultivated millet seeds recovered from Harappan sites suggests that they played an important role in some regions of the civilization’ (2013).
Millets were ingredient part in the lives of African societies since beginning and has been cultivated in abundance in the different parts of the Africa continent. The rich history of Africa’s mankind denotes the use of millets on special occasions as well as in their daily lives. The archaeobotanical analysis in West Africa and L Champion explains that “the site of Tongo Maar’e Diabal (TMD) in Mali are composed primarily of pearl millet remains. The contemporary urban sites of the West African Sahel often comprise combined and diversified farming systems of millet (pearl millet and wild millet) and it spread south of the Niger river dates from 1900 to 1700 BCE. Pearl millet extended through the agropastoralism in Mail, Burkina Faso, and northern Ghana during the second millennium BC. The agricultural landscape at TMD was largely composed of pearl millet fields, intercropped with cowpea contended the mono-culture of longer time economic pattern in this region” (2021: 1-9). The use of pearl millet along with cereals, chaff, pulses, sorghum, weeds, nuts, and fruits in this region worked for the crop rotation as an alternative strategies of replenishing soil nutrients. The travelogue of big millets right from the Savannah to North Africa, East Africa, Horn of Africa, and Southern part of Africa went together with the Bantu tribe movements from North to Southern Africa and further expanded through the barter trade system and cultural connects with different tribal communities living in the different parts of the continent.
African millets were exported to Bharat as a trade product particularly evidenced with material facts in the Indus Valley civilization and Randi Haaland explained in detail (2012, 13-37). African millets (broomcorn millet in particular) as material objects either supplied as a commercial value or developing cultural connection during the Indus valley period particularly in Lothal port in Gujarat signifies its vitality. The southern part of India and mainly the plateau region cultivates the small millets and uses them as a food item like the eastern part of Africa, is discussed here separately.
Sh. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of Bharat, government has taken initiative and renaissance its significance and declared Year of Millets in the year 2018 in Bharat in the name of Shree Anna the includes Jowar, Raggi, Bajra, Ramdana, Cheena and Saama. Modi’s government has strongly raised this concern before the United Nations and persuaded the world community, about the need of revival of soil nutrients in the world. Subsequently, UNO has declared the International Year of Millets 2023 (IYOM) and appealed to regain the lost prestige of millets for the benefits of human kind. Bharat and Africa continent reinforces its historical use of millets as a part of most proteinaceous diet having all essential nutrients for the human being, pastorals, and land soil. Millet is one of the three themes for the Republic Day Parade tableaux of 26 January in the year 2023. The agricultural scientists of the globe have supported this mission of International Year of Millets 2023 (IYOM) that will encourage the ongoing task of goal one of ‘No Poverty’, goal two of ‘Zero Hunger’, goal three of ‘Good Health and Well Being’, and goal fifteen of ‘Life on Land’ under Sustainable Development Programme (SDG). This article explores Agenda 2030 of sustainable agriculture development and suggest the alternatives in procuring the zero hunger in Bharat and Africa.
Mythic of Superior versus Inferior Food
“Mothers during our childhood in Bharat and Africa had served the full meal of millet porridge, oven baked millet bread, millet roti (of bajra, makka, jo, kuttu, jwari, & ragi) with milk ghee, oshikwila, injara, banku, ugali, nshima, fufu, tuo, kenkey, cooked millet, millet jollof, dosa, utpam, idly, kichdi, dalia, and similar food meals,” explained Suresh Kumar (21 February 2023). All the complete food meal are having protein, carbohydrate, fiber, potassium, iron, sodium, calcium, and essential vitamins required for the human beings. The author remembered the drinking of Rabri prepared with bajra flour and yogurt, which minimized the effect of heat waves (loo in India and different names in Sahel Africa) during the months of May-July. Unfortunately, all the indigenous millet-based food varieties have become a misnomer in the globalized world and our children are drinking the cold drinks and other junk food in their daily lives. The question arises here that why the millet-based products advertised as untouchable food and the analysis come forward with the picture of rich versus poor man meals and superior versus inferior food. The analysis of global food market and their advertisements such as White Bread, Extra Milky-White Bread, white wheat flour for the round and white roti’s, carbonated cold drinks, extra sugar-based fruit juices, crystal shining pulses, big and white superior rice and broadcasting the propaganda on colour only and not on nutrition value of food. Further, a poor man roti is made of millets having green, brown, grey, yellow, dusty colour and a rich man is having white colour roti’s. As a result, the natural ingredients of the soil with the overuse of wheat and rice production have been vanished and the production of millet is kept only for the poor people. The complete meal of millet provides all essential ingredients to our body and the author profoundly deliberated, “It is said that millet is the meal of poor people. who has fixed these parameters of rich versus poor people meal. The basmati rice eating is the superior one and eating the pearl roti is the inferior one. We are living in the mythic foolish paradise, habituating with mythic people. You eat any millet meal in the morning, your tummy is full having energy, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, etc. So, what are you looking for? The habit of over eating of white burger, pizza or any other item prepared with maidda (refined wheat flour) will ultimately lead to the hospital or visit physician, having body overweight, heart trouble or sign of diabetes. Why don’t we use the millets for our natural good health? Celebrating international year of millet only as a ritual or as a slogan will not serve the rightful purpose. I urge the Bhartiya agro-industry to investment in mix millet in potato finger chips, millet in bread, burger, pizza, noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, pasta and other products” (21 February 2023). The millet mix bread is harder than the white bread that is good for the gums, hardness protects the millet ingredients and provide good health ultimately. This globalized mythic of rich versus poor man diet needs to be broken to save soil, good health parameter and sustainable agriculture development and it will be discussed subsequently.
Mythic Versus Good Health
Millet, undoubtedly are rich in health having good fiber, vitamins & minerals having calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, sodium and zinc. For example, Sorghum contains protein, fiber and antioxidants phenolic compound, pearl millet is having protein, carbohydrate, iron, carotene (is used for the protection of eyes), finger millet is having the highest calcium among all millet along with protein, carbohydrate, etheric essence and minerals, and Proso millet is rich in lecithin (supporting nervous system), rich in vitamin B complex, amino acids, folic acid, phosphorous, calcium, zinc and iron. Similarly, Foxtail enriches with energy, fat, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, Vitamin B-12 (important for healthy heart, reducing insulin, cholesterol and fasting glucose for Type-2 diabetes), and Little millet has iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrate and fat. Though this is not the piece of chemical analysis of millet but it is enough to get rid of the myth of superiority, colour conscious clean shining food and rich people diet. The literature on millet and its use in ancient Bharat and Africa is bursting with knowledge that need to revive again in the globalized world. It is one of the reason, Prime Minister Sh. Narender Modi has given the divinity title to millet with Sri Anna. This rich treasure of millet should enthusiastically advertise and be a part of school, college and university curriculum, broadcast among the farmer for millet production, propagate millet meals as part of diet with larger population to save soil and earth.
Millets Production to Promotion
The varieties of millets such as Pearl (bajra), Foxtail (kakum, kangni), Finger (ragi) Amaranth (rajgir, ramdana, chola), Little (moraiyo, kutki, sama), Sorghum (jwar), Buckwheat (kuttu), Browntop, Kodo, Proso, Barnyard, Broom corn, Taff, Fonio and others are found in Bharat and Africa have been pivotal to rural self-reliance, food and nutrition and sustainable health. The ‘4th Agri Business Conclave 2023’ in India focuses on IYOM supported by national and international agricultural organizations has invited the author’s interventions on millets. The global market is full of pasta, pizza, burger, noodles, sandwiches, potato fingers, chips and many more having the international brands outlets. The food meals of different kinds cooked in Bhartiya and African kitchen needs promotion at industrial scale right from the local, state, provinces, national and then move to international levels. The promotion of millets at large scale will boost the goals of sustainable health will be discussed subsequently. The production to promotion of millets initiates the active participation of agro-industry in Bharat and Africa. The Union budget of Bharat 2023-2024 emphasizes on the cultivation of coarse grains or millets, declared global hub of Shree Anna Research and Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will work as Center of Excellence and shares best practices, research, and technology at international level, which will certainly raise the income of Bharatiya and global farmers of small land hoardings. The Economic survey of India 2023 highlighted that Bharat alone has produced 80 % of Asia and 20% of global production of millets.
African millets sector has substantial potential to improve local economies and leave a lasting impact on the livelihood of its large populace. Increased agricultural output and income also has a multiplier effect on the economy because of its links with markets for the output of the manufacturing and services sector. Millet production has been at the forefront of the recent transition in Bharat-Africa relations. The delegation of MoAFW of Bharat has visited Nigeria and had lengthy discussion on the millets in the year 2023, as explained by Ahmed Shule (21 March, 2023). Various African nations perceive the success of the Green Revolution in Bharat as a role model. Moreover, Bharat remains focused on capacity building, human resource development and the transfer of technology and skills as a key ingredient of its policy. Agriculture accounts for more than 25% of the GDP in most African countries and employs more than 70% of the workforce. Africa has approximately 783 million hectares of arable land (27% of the world total), which is adequate to effectively feed its population. However, the output is highly concentrated with Egypt and Nigeria accounting for approximately one-third of total agricultural output and the top 10 countries in the continent producing nearly 75%. Africa is the only region in the world where agricultural productivity has not grown noticeably. In fact, the Green Revolution, which enhanced agricultural growth in many Asian countries, is yet to take place in Africa.
Bharat is celebrating the millet year by organizing exhibitions and conferences at international levels. African countries appreciated this gesture and Sahle Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia remarked that ‘millets provide an affordable and nutritious option to feed the people in these times. Ethiopia is an important millet producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa and underlined the production of millets as per their eco system’ (2023). India has assumed global leadership in promoting the cause of millets by providing technical guidance and support with technology and ensuring food security. Sh. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India has highlighted on the “farming of millets, millets economy, health benefits, and farmer’s income among others with the active participation of Gram Panchayat, Krishi Kendras, schools, colleges, and agricultural universities along with the Indian embassies and virtually connected more than 7.5 million farmers in this conference. He also noted the inception of millet cafes apart from social media channels dedicated to recipes on millets and selected nineteen districts under the scheme ‘One District, One Product’ as a part of Bharat mission on Millets” (2023). Bharat mission of millets potentials in eradicating hunger of the country by 2030 and nourishes the soil for the sustainable agriculture. Millet’s production to promotion requirements attracts the active participation of the agro-industry in Bharat. Bhartiya Ministry of Agriculture has funded sixty six startups (as a part of agro-industry) to boost consumption of millets.
Bhartiya agro-industry has lunched the production of millets and has attracted the customers with the varieties of products mentioned in Table-1. Siridhanya Grain Combo Organic Millet Pack and Siridhanya Flour Combo Organic Millet Pack contains Kodo, Foxtail, Little Barnyard and Browntop having a balanced nutritional profile and Siridhanya Millets Rava combo contains Kodo millet rava, Foxtail millet rava, Browntop millet rava, Little millet rava and Barnyard rava works for healthy nutritional meal. Amazon has informed that ‘Bharat is one of the largest producers and exporters of millets, which can also be grown in non-irrigated conditions and require minimal use of chemical fertilizers. By bringing attention to the highly resilient and self-sufficient properties of this crop, Bharat aims to position millets as the crop of the future and will become a ‘Global Hub’ for its production. Several homegrown SMB brands and startups are bringing the heritage crop or ‘Miracle Grains’ in the form of easy-to-cook products for the modern consumer’ (2023). Amazon data revealed that the increasing number of millet product sellers across the country has joined the online selling as their innovation with traditional millets to fit the contemporary consumer’s diet. Bhartiya sellers being a part of the global millets movement and contribute to mitigate climate change as millets are remarkable for their low intake of agricultural resources and high output of essential dietary nutrients. Bhartiya sellers keeping the young customers in mind, they have successfully launched the breakfast menu with the millet cereal flakes to vermicelli, millet-based pizza, pasta, noodles, bread, burger, and many more and aims to provide a hassle-free and nutritious twist to consumers tables. The Startup such as Phalada Pure and Sure offers a wide range of millet-based instant food having an array of regional delicacies with a healthy twist in Gujarat and different states in southern Bharat as mentioned in Table-1. These Startup has directly procured the ingredients from the local farmers. Eat Millet, one of the Startup came into market in the year 2018 with a wide range of millet-based meals product and provide supplement-free products and Ruchika Bhuwalka has established her medicinal qualities of millet-based food brand and provides traditional Bhartiya alternatives to international breads such as pizza base and lavash, among others. Slurrp Farm another Startup has started from millet-noodles to super grain dosas and today produces a wide range of instant foods and mixes and aims to transform the toddlers, kids and dietary habits in the globe.
The agro-industry in Africa needs millets mechanization that will facilitate increase in productivity. The production boost in millet is the only way to initiate the agro-industry in Africa. It should be clear to all that once there will be surplus production of food in Africa, the agro-industry will get the input of raw materials to produce different food products and cater to the needs of urban as well as rural areas. More than hundred Indian companies have collectively
Agro-Industry Promotion to Production of Millets
|Sr. No.||Name of the Product|
|1.||Siridhanya Grain Combo Organic Millet Pack|
|2.||Siridhanya Flour Combo Organic Millet Pack|
|3.||Foxtail Millet Grain Organic|
|4.||Millet Pizza Base Organic|
|5.||Kodo Millet Grains Organic|
|6.||Organic Barnyard Millet Organic|
|7.||Bajra Methi Khakhra|
|8.||Little Millet Organic Grain|
|9.||Jowar Millet Flour Organic|
|10.||Foxtail Millet Dosa Idli Batter Organic|
|11.||Ragi Millet Dosa Idli Batter Organic|
|12.||Siridhanya Millets Rava Combo|
|14.||Millet Khichdi Mix Organic|
|15.||Bajra Flour Organic|
|16.||Ragi Grains Organic|
|17.||Sprouted Ragi Flour|
|18.||Millet Rava Dosa Mix Organic|
|19.||Masala Poha Flakes Organic|
|20.||Millet Rava Upma Mix Organic|
|21.||Jowar Millet Grain Organic|
|22.||Organic Ragi Millet Flour|
|23.||Millet Mix Pongal Organic|
|24.||Amaranth Flour Organic|
|25.||Little Millet Rava|
|26.||Red Rava Chivda|
|27.||Kodo Flour Organic|
|28.||Porso Millet Grain Organic|
|29.||Foxtail Millet Flour Organic|
|30.||Millet Lavash Grains Organic|
|31.||Barnyard Millet Flour Organic|
|32.||Amaranth Grain Organic|
|33.||Dosa Idli Batter|
|34.||Jowar Millet Instant Noodles|
|35.||Little Millet Instant Noodles|
|36.||Little Millet Pasta|
|37.||Little Millet Hakka Noodles|
|38.||Royal Mukhwas Sugar Free|
|39.||Foxtail Starter Kit Combo|
|Startup and Agro-Industries in Bharat|
|Siridhanya, Amma, SMB, Eat Millet, Ruchika Bulwalka, Slurrp Farms & Kodo|
invested US$2.50 billion in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal, and Mozambique. Bharat produces agricultural tractors, mould board plough, disc plough, sub-soiler as primary tillage, spring loaded tillers, harrow, leveller, bund former, scraper, rotary tiller as secondary tillage, back hoe with tractor, laser grader, graders, scrapers with tractors as earth moving equipment’s. Mahendra & Mahendra, is the largest producers of Agricultural equipment’s in India. Along with it, Bharat produces sowing machinery such as post hole digger, paddy planter, seed cum fertilizer drill, irrigation systems such as sprinkler systems, drip system, irrigation pumps like centrifugal pumps, stationary diesel engine driven centrifugal pumps, engine set, electric pumps and submersible pumps, sowing & harvesting machinery and post-harvest machinery. This agricultural mechanization will enhance the production as the land in Africa and promote agro-industries. Investment opportunities exist in seed production, manufacture of sprayers and organic pesticides, veterinary services, construction of cold storage facilities and refrigerated transport for horticultural and other perishable products.
Investment Opportunities in African Millet
Food security is the prime focus in developing the agriculture sector. The nature has gifted diverse agro-ecological zones in West, North and Southern Africa. Africa has abundant agricultural resources that attracts the investment opportunities in increasing the production from the smallholder farms to large-scale commercial farms. Following investment areas are identified such as:
West Africa cultivates varieties of millet and Indian investors may invest in farm-level productivity and ginning efficiency, improving the institutional development and capacity-building of stakeholders, as well as strengthening of governance structures and management systems. Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d ’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Togo are the major millet producers and guarantees right of full business awareness for Bhartiya investors and possibility of Joint Venture with West African business community. The millet production further strengthen livestock comprising bovines, aprons, ovine, pigs, mules and poultry and invest in milk processing (dairy plants). Ghana offers Cassava, Palm oil, cocoa and it can be mixed with millet in the Agro-industry sector and will produce healthy meals. Peanuts are the main commodity produced in Senegal, but attempts have been made to diversify into others, particularly the millet. Bharat facilitated Senegal agriculture sector on lines of credit in the creation of rural enterprises. There are export opportunities in the agri-business sector, with the AGOA visa in diversification of the industrial processing of groundnut and millet, support to the development of millet products exports, improvement of the condition of market operation, support to agri-business producers and operators for a better adaptation of products to the market.
Injera, the favourite full meal in the kitchen of Eastern Africa contains teff and other millet known as the best healthy diet. Injera compares with the Indian dish of dosa having the same fermentation and cooking method. This region being a part of Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD) consists of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda is one of the best places for the cultivation of millet. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing livelihood to approximately 75 per cent of the population. There is considerable scope for diversification and expansion of the agricultural sector through accelerated millet and food crop production and increase of non-traditional exports. There are also opportunities for improvement in technological infrastructure such as packaging, storage, and transportation. Intensified irrigation and additional value-added processing are marketable areas for investments. Opportunities exist in production and export of products related to millet production. The vision for agriculture sector is to be innovative, commercially oriented and modern, offering the following investment opportunities in millet development, value addition and marketing infrastructure. Along with it, the investment opportunities in the millet agro-industry production and processing for exports in neighbouring countries. Uganda is east Africa’s food basket. Makerere University’s Faculty of Food Science and Technology in Uganda should work for the millet production in the barren land and invite the investors in agro-industry sector. Similarly, Britannia Allied Industries, a consortium of food processing firms should invest in millet-based food meals production.
The agricultural sector in Southern Africa is being re-engineered to cater for the arising needs of the global food security crisis with an increased diversification of millet production backed by modern techniques and technologies. Investment opportunities in the sector can be captured in advanced agricultural technology including precision farming, green and organic farming among others. Mozambique has wide diversity of soil types and climatic conditions, access to over 60 rivers and 36 million hectares of arable land greatly enhance its potential as an agricultural exporter. Mozambique agro-processing enterprises investment refers to the ‘promotion and enhancement of packaging sector in Mozambique and improves the quality and quantity of products offered by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The MSME will identify the national suppliers of packaging, design services, printing and package recycling having millet products for the national and international market. The MSME should attract domestic and foreign investment in the sectors of agro-processing and packaging of millet products.
The invitation to the global investors and persuade them to work under PPP model will ensure the right participation from small farm holders to large farm holders in developing millet-based mixed agriculture. PPP model will ensure the education to the farmers about new agricultural technology, agricultural research, develop human capital and local youth to managerial skill, support government Agricultural Development led Industrialization (ADLI), enhance physical capital rural infrastructure, millet market, credit scheme and extension services and strengthen sustainable green agriculture sector in Bharat and Africa. The global investors will transform the overuse of cultivation of land to millet-based stable agriculture using better seeds, organic fertilizer, evolving soil conservation and use of mechanical equipment and practice mix Agri-cum-forestry method of sustainable agriculture.
The alleviation of absolute poverty in Bharat and Africa needs long term sustainable agricultural education that involve introduction of millet agriculture in the school pedagogy, vocational training programme and promoting millet-based Startup. University of Delhi through its website, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media has ‘announced that the University has taken an initiative to make the students well aware about high nutrition value of millets. To make the University of Delhi campaign successful, it has sent the proposal of Khelo Bharat 2024 with main focus on making students acquaint with millets to the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs, Mr. Anuragh Thakur. Will you all support us to being our favourite foodgrain back in our lives, appealed University of Delhi (26 March 2023). It will educate the large pool of unskilled labor and will work to generate the millet-based product income with Startup.
Bharat and Africa agro-industry also require infrastructure development and grain buffer stock that will cater the basic requirements (such as vegetable oil, different products of milk and varieties of cereal food items) of the country along with employment generation.
Overall, millet agricultural investment depends upon the demand and supply of its production at the domestic level and attract global market for the millet products as a part of agro-industry. Bharat and African government should develop a balance using green technology in the millet sector and ensure the farmers participation at all the level of decision making. This participation will develop enthusiasm among farmers and an understanding in building millet & cereal combination cohesive economy and will eradicate the absolute poverty in the long terms.
Ahmed Shule, Ambassador of Nigeria, 21 February 2023. Invited Speaker. 3rd Agri Business Conclave 2023, International Year of Millets 2023. Organized by Diplomatist. India.
Amazon, 2023. https://www.amazon.in/Slurrp-Farm-Instant-Supergrains-Beetroot/dp/B07D4K4GKR/ref=sr_1_33?crid=KKM2ICQUT62Z&keywords=millet&qid=1672988812&refinements=p_72%3A1318476031&rnid=1318475031&sprefix=mille%2Caps%2C231&sr=8-33 : accessed on 23 March 2023.
ICRISAT. https://www.icrisat.org/a-short-history-of-millets-and-how-we-are-recognising-their-importance-in-the-modern-context/: accessed on 22.03.2023.
L Champion, N Gestrich, K MacDonald, L Nieblas-Ramirez and D Q Fuller, 2021. Pearl Millet and Iron in the West African Sahel: Archaeobotanical Invetigation at Tongo Maar’e Diabal. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (39). Elsevier.
Randi Haaland, 2012. Crops and Culture: Dispersal of African Millets to the Indian Subcontinent and its Cultural Consequences. Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology. Vol. 5.
Sahle Work Zewde, 2023. https://agriexchange.apeda.gov.in/news/Newssearch.aspx?newsid=48754: 20 March 2023.
Sh. Narendra Modi, 2023. https://agriexchange.apeda.gov.in/news/Newssearch.aspx?newsid=48754: 20 March 2023.
Steve Weber and Arunima Kashyap, 2013. The Vanishing Millets of the Indus Civilization. Springer. Singapore.
University of Delhi, 26 March 2023. http://www.du.ac.in, https://www.linkedin.com/posts/delhi-university_do-you-kno-millets-yes-the-very-famous-activity-7045686575841579008-8Pq8? : accessed on 26 March 2023.