India's millet revival: How the once-neglected seed is making a comeback

Published: 6 November 2023

Millet, once a staple in Indian cooking and agriculture before being superseded by rice, is at the centre of a massive promotional campaign launched by the Indian government.

The healthy and hardy cereal, which thrives in arid and difficult conditions in which other crops cannot survive and requires less water, is being touted as a "superfood" that could force a more nutritious diet on India's population, and also help mitigate the devastating effects of climate change on the South Asian country.

"Millets are very, very important … [and] the government finally is interested in learning more about the positive qualities," McGill Department of Bioresource Engineering Professor Vijaya Raghavan told CBC News.

After tossing the cereal aside during the Green Revolution, the Indian government's current embrace of the neglected millet is a positive sign, the professor said, even if he believes the enthusiasm should come with more than just a marketing campaign.

"A [millet] subsidy would help the farmers … stay competitive in their production area," Raghavan said.

Without one, he added, more and more farmers might find it "difficult to make both ends meet," especially considering the major subsidies attached to growing rice and wheat in many parts of the country.

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