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Significance of millets & how are nutrients in millets affected by processing and polishing?

In this article, we have discussed the significance of millet in ensuring food security. Also, the nutritional level of different millets has also been discussed.

significance of millet

Why in News?

The specialized body of the UN, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has declared the year 2023, as a international year of Millets. The initiative emphasised the significance of millets to ensure the nutritional security among the masses.

Millets in India?

Significance of Millets in India, Millets have become more popular in India because of their low input requirements and high nutritional density, both of which are valuable for a country whose food security may face significant challenges in the coming decades. However, millet consumption faces a threat that has already overtaken India’s major food crops: grain-processing.

What are millets?

Millets are basically grasses. Millets are cultivated globally, but especially in tropical parts of Africa and Asia, as grain crops. Some of the more common varieties include millet (Cencrus americanus), barnyard millet (Echinochloa utilis), finger millet (Eleusine coracana), and foxtail millet (Setaria italica).

There is both palaeontological and textual evidence to indicate that millets were being cultivated in the Indian subcontinent as early as five millennia ago. According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Development Authority, India is the world’s largest producer of millets. In 2021–2022, the country accounted for 40.51% of the world’s millet production and 8.09% of jowar. Within the country, millets account for 60% of total production, jowar 27% and ragi 11%.

What is the nutritious level of millets?

Millets includes carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, amino acids and various minerals as a nutritional content. The nutrient level of different millets is different as per the types and varities. eg. the one of the oldest cultivated varieties namely pearl millet consist higher proportion of protein content than rice, maize and sorghum.

According to various studies, foxtail millet is rich in the amino acid lysine. Ragi has more crude fiber than wheat and rice. Proso millet contains significant amounts of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and methionine. Overall, millets are an important source of micronutrients and phytochemicals.

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