ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Policy Perspective

Millets in the Indian Plate

Millets can play a role in providing nutrition security as they are rich in various macro and micronutrients, and can help to fight various non-communicable diseases. Hence, a suggestion was made to include them in the basket of goods provided through the public distribution system. The findings of this article suggest that, with the present level of production, millets can be provided in some states of India which have culturally grown as well as consumed them. However, scaling this policy to the national level may not be possible unless rigorous measures are undertaken to improve production as well as consumer acceptability.

The objective of the targeted public distribution system (TPDS), launched in India in 1997, was to provide sufficient grains and nutritional support to beneficiaries, largely comprising the socially and economically deprived sections of the population identified as below poverty line households, to ensure food security. Although sufficiency in the provision of grains has been achieved to a significant extent, improvement in nutrient intake has not. Food security is not only about having access to enough quantity of food, but also safe and good quality food derived from diverse sources (Food and Agriculture Organization 1996). Millet grains are a potential source of healthy and nutritious food and hence were proposed to be included in the basket of grains provided through the public distribution system (PDS) under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) (Rajya Sabha 2014). Millets are small seeded grass grown as a coarse cereal, majorly in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa, and are a rich source of calcium, fibre, protein, iron and various other micronutrients.

The decision to provide millets through the PDS is timely, given that India is in the midst of a nutrition and health transition, and consequently, the role of micronutrient deficiencies is increasingly recognised in combating the emerging public health problem of the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases (Meenakshi 2016). To successfully incorporate millets in the basket of goods provided through the PDS, it is important first, to understand the amount of millets that can replace other cereals in the diet of the targeted population to improve nutrient intake and second, to understand if there is sufficient supply of the given amount of grains for smooth procurement.

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Updated On : 6th Sep, 2019

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