Centre notifies Karnataka’s millets as nutri-cereals

The Centre has declared millets, a popular food in many parts of Karnataka, as “Nutri-Cereals”, hoping that the classification would pave the way for a rise in the production, consumption and trade of several varieties of the nutritionally rich cereals. DH File photo

The Centre has declared millets, a popular food in many parts of Karnataka, as “Nutri-Cereals”, hoping that the classification would pave the way for a rise in the production, consumption and trade of several varieties of the nutritionally rich cereals.

According to the official notification issued by the Union agriculture ministry last week, as many as 10 varieties of highly nutritive millets would fit the bill as nutri-cereals.

They are sorghum (Jowar), pearl millet (Bajra), finger millet (Ragi/Mandua), minor millets ie foxtail millet (Kangani/Kakun), proso millet (Cheena), kodo millet (Kodo), barnyard millet (Sawa/Sanwa/Jhangora), little millet (Kutki) and two pseudo millets (Black-wheat (Kuttu) and Ameranthus (Chaulai).

The decision was taken on the basis of research findings that prove millets’ anti-diabetic properties and nutritional values. Millet-based foods have low glycemic index because of which they reduce post-prandial blood glucose level, measured two hours after having food. In addition, they bring down the level of glycated haemoglobin in blood, another parameter to check diabetes.

A dietary guideline for Indians, prepared by Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition, recommended consumption of millets as a source of energy as well as micro-nutrients. Acting on the recommendations of an expert committee, the central government began providing millets through the public distribution system across the country since July 2017,

Millets are cultivated in the low-fertile land, mountainous, tribal and rain-fed areas in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

While they were cultivated in nearly 37 million hectares of land in 1965-66 before the Green Revolution, the area under millet cultivation declined to 14.72 million hectares – 60% less than the previous coverage area – in 2016-17 because of poor low demand.

The reasons behind such a change in the consumption pattern include shifting dietary habits, unavailability of millets, low yield, and conversion of irrigated area for cultivation of rice and wheat, resulting in a drop of nutrients like protein, vitamin-A, iron and iodine levels in women and children, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh informed a panel of Parliamentarians last month.

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