Millets pose production and consumption challenges; MP’s Dindori project shows the way forward -Harish Damodaran

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published Published on Mar 29, 2021   modified Modified on Mar 29, 2021

-The Indian Express

In rural India, the National Food Security Act of 2013 – which entitles three-fourths of all households to 5 kg of wheat or rice per person per month at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg, respectively – has reduced the demand for millets.

Millets score over rice and wheat, whether in terms of vitamins, minerals and crude fibre content or amino acid profile. They are also hardier and drought-resistant crops, which has to do with their short growing season (70-100 days, as against 120-150 days for paddy/wheat) and lower water requirement (350-500 mm versus 600-1,200 mm).

Yet, these high-nutrient cereals – bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), kodo (kodo millet), kutki (little millet), kakun (foxtail millet), sanwa (barnyard millet), cheena (proso millet), kuttu (buckwheat) and chaulai (amaranth) – aren’t the first choice of either consumers or farmers.

For starters, kneading dough and rolling rotis is much easier with wheat than with millet flour. Even the branded “multi-grain” or “navratna” atta that leading FMCG companies are retailing contain anywhere from 60.6% to 90.9% whole wheat. The reason for this: Wheat has gluten proteins that swell and form networks on adding water to the flour, making the dough more cohesive and elastic. The resultant chapattis come out soft, which isn’t possible with millets that are gluten-free.

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The Indian Express, 29 March, 2021,

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