A run to champion cause of millets among urban users

A run to champion cause of millets among urban users

A run to champion cause of millets among urban users

Come December, these runners are going to lace up their well-worn shoes and sprint to give millets, the forgotten superfood, a push among urban consumers.

‘Miles for Millets’ is a campaign to increase awareness on this homegrown grain by Mera Terah Run collective, a group of volunteers who run for a cause.

Conceived in 2014 by Jagdish Damania, an IT professional, Mera Terah run started as a journey to run 13 half-marathons in 13 days, travelling by rail and raising funds for various NGOs. Their effort was even appreciated by the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in a letter addressed to them.

After the second successful fundraising run last year, from Kanyakumari to Koteshwar in Gujarat, they decided to do something different in 2016. Instead of raising funds, they decided use the platform to create awareness about a social cause.

Millets, which are slowly making a comeback into people’s diets, are slow-releasing carbohydrates which are great for runners. The crop is drought-resistant too, therefore a sustainable alternative for farmers. With these benefits in mind and with the idea to promote healthy lifestyles, Mera Terah run chose to champion the cause of millets.

“We live in urban areas where people are health conscious and have the capacity to spend. We thought that our strength would be to create awareness among people in cities, thereby increasing demand and making production sustainable for farmers,” said Sindhu Naik, the logistics coordinator for the group.

Beginning on December 15, the group will run in six millet-producing states - Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. With the help of Dwiji Guru, who works for the promotion of millets, the runners will connect with non-profit organisations in these states which work for the same cause.

In each state, they will be visiting one rural location to meet producers and share what they learn with potential consumers in the city. Whatever insights they receive will be shared on their website and Facebook page for the benefit of followers.

There are 16 people who will run the entire journey, which is 13 miles (21 kilometres) per day for 13 days. Several others have registered to run shorter stretches and more runners are expected to join them in each city they visit.

Lieutenant Colonel Srikrishna said, “This run is like an annual pilgrimage for us, runners or yatris as we call ourselves.” Though he has taken part in the previous runs, this will be the first time he is running the entire route.

Serious about the cause, the runners will be doing a pre-run in Timbaktu Collective in Andhra Pradesh next month where they will meet farmers and understand the challenges of growing the food grain. Besides the pre-run, they have several activities planned before they finally hit the road in December.

On September 18, they are organising a workshop on millet recipes ‘Kick-off with a cook-off’ in Lahe Lahe at Indiranagar in Bengaluru along with Kaulige Foods.

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