UN declares 2023 International Year of Millets: Know its health benefits

Millets, mainly a kharif crop in India, have a high nutritional value. The UN declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

New Delhi,UPDATED: Dec 20, 2022 16:55 IST

UN has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

By Daphne Clarance: The United Nations declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYOM 2023) on Tuesday at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters. A widely popular Indian food staple, millets, which encompasses a diverse group of cereals including pearl (bajra), propo, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop and others, is an important source of nourishment for millions across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said that the year 2023 will be a timely reminder of “this important crop.”

“Millets are incredible ancestral crops with high nutritional value. Millets can play an important role and contribute to our collective efforts to empower smallholder farmers, achieve sustainable development, eliminate hunger, adapt to climate change, promote biodiversity, and transform agrifood systems,” said Director General QU Dongyu.


  • Pearl
  • Foxtail
  • Proso
  • Finger (Ragi)
  • Kodo
  • Barnyard
  • Browntop
  • Fonio
  • Adlay


The kitchen ingredient, which is mainly a kharif crop in India, has many nutritional benefits and ensures sustainable production. It is rich in phytonutrients that help to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also rich in niacin, a B vitamin which manages more than 400 enzyme reactions in the body. It is healthy for the skin and organ functions and is an excellent source of beta-carotene, especially the darker varieties.

Millets have a low glycemic index, and therefore, it can help control blood sugar levels. This further makes it a great alternative to wheat and rice, which have a high glycemic index. This means they can spike the blood sugar level of the body, which might not be a suitable choice for diabetics.

It has a low carbon and water footprint and can grow relatively in poor soils under adverse and arid conditions with minimal inputs.

Besides this, millets are known as a prebiotic, which means that it supports the good bacteria in the digestive system. Since it has more essential amino acids than other cereals, it can help grow and repair body tissue. It is rich in antioxidants like ferulic acid and catechins, which prevent the body from harmful oxidative stress.

If you consume a gluten-free diet, millets are a viable addition for those who have celiac disease. Since other grains like wheat, rice, barley and rye contain gluten, a protein that can cause sensitivity in many people, the millet family can be perfect for consumption.

Earlier today, to mark the ‘Millet Year,’ Union Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar hosted a special ‘Millet-only’ lunch for the members of Parliament. The menu of the special lunch consisted of delicacies like Bajre Ke Raabri (pearl millet soup), Raji Roti, Foxtail Millet Bisibelebath and Jowar Halwa.

More than 90 per cent of millet production takes place in developing countries of Africa and Asia. Since the cultivation of millets has been declining in many countries, the UN mentioned the urgent need to promote the nutritional and ecological benefit of millets to consumers, producers, and decision-makers.

(With agency input)

Edited By:

Daphne Clarance

Published On:

Dec 20, 2022

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