Chintan Shivir: Govt. brainstorms ways to popularise millets through PDS


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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, April 28: The inaugural day of the ‘Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session)’ of the Ministry of Food saw an intense deliberations on ways to push millets into the public distribution system (PDS) as a way to combat malnutrition, as well as ill-effects of climate change on agriculture.

Agriculture scientist Ashok Gulati argued before the officials of the Ministry for a wider inclusion of millets in the PDS system. Sources said that Gulati called for efforts to change the consumption pattern heavily in favour of rice.

“Gulati raised the concerns of the evident disadvantages of rice as a popular food item, arguing that the demand to deal with the climate change crisis calls for a readjustment and acceptance of millets in place. Paddy is a water guzzler summer crop, as well as consuming heavy doses of chemical fertilizers, which also compromise health of the rice-eaters,” said a top-ranking official, who is attending the Chintan Shivir.

Gulati was one of the top experts called to guide the brainstorming session of the officials of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution at a resort in Surajkund, Faridabad in Haryana on Thursday. The brainstorming session will conclude on Friday.

“The major thrust during the session was on finding possibilities to make millets part of the popular PDS system, which currently majorly distributes wheat and rice. Millets will need to be given equal share in the PDS system. This is also needed to combat climate change, as water will increasingly become scarce, and a shift in the food pattern is most needed at the current juncture to safeguard the food security of the people,” added the official.

India is showcasing millets as superfood during the ongoing Indian presidency of G20. The food menu consisting of millets has become a mainstay of the G20 subgroup meetings all across the country. The government functions also include food items made of millets. The government buildings are also full; of vending machines dispensing millets’ packets. The state governments also have launched their own version of Millets Mission to popularize the consumption of millets. The United Nations is also commemorating 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

“Gulati also stated that the research institutions need to accelerate efforts to reengineer rice varieties, which are rich in zinc and other minerals, to help fight malnutrition and stunting among children,” said the official.

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