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CSIR-NIScPR Hosts Expert Review Meeting to Drive Millets’ Value Chain Development in India

New Delhi: CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (NIScPR) hosted a significant Expert Review Meeting in New Delhi yesterday as part of the project titled “Enhancing Nutritional Security and Sustainable Health through Millets in India: a Policy Perspective.” The event brought together key experts from the millet industry, researchers, and policy domains to discuss the development of the millets value chain in India.

The session commenced with a warm welcome address by Dr. Naresh Kumar, Chief Scientist of CSIR-NIScPR, followed by a thought-provoking keynote speech on the “Development of Millets Value Chain in India: Perspectives and Way Forward” by Dr. Dayakar Rao B, Principal Scientist at ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research, Hyderabad.

Dr. Dayakar Rao highlighted a concerning trend in India, noting a 60% decline in millet cultivation since 1950. This decline, attributed to a lack of policy and market-driven demand, underscores the need for a millet revolution led by PM Modi. The neglect spanning six decades has resulted in imbalances in the millet supply chain, characterized by unorganized practices and farmer disinterest. Addressing this issue requires informed efforts to convey the significance of millets and stimulate both supply and demand.

The Expert Input section featured Dr. Alka Singh, a distinguished Professor and Principal Scientist from the Division of Agricultural Economics at ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute. Dr. Alka emphasizes the significant shift in our dietary habits before and after the Green Revolution when our parents primarily consumed millet rotis. This traditional practice, deeply ingrained in our food system, has undergone behavioural changes over time. It is crucial to raise awareness among farmers and children about the relative profitability of these crops, as some millets are regionally specific and have not gained widespread popularity across the nation.

Dr. Mohammad Rais, Former Chief Scientist at CSIR-NIScPR, chaired the panel discussion and said, “In NIScPR, our focus extends beyond traditional crops. I propose the establishment of a dedicated board for millets to enhance coordination efforts and making a policy for millets. The promotion of millet consumption is of paramount importance, and it is crucial that people receive expert-led education on the subject.”

Dr. Suman Ray, Principal Scientist & PI of the Millet project at CSIR-NIScPR, presented an overview of the project, setting the context for the diverse experiences of millet industry stakeholders and experts. The first-hand accounts from industry representatives highlighted the challenges and successes within the millet industry.

Dr. Suman Ray proposed the vote of thanks, acknowledging the collaborative efforts that have the potential to shape policies fostering nutritional security and sustainable health through millets in India.

CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR) is one of the constituent laboratories of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) under the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. It specializes in the fields of science communication; STI focused evidence-based policy research and studies. For more information, please visit CSIR-NIScPR.

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