India has launched a five-day Millets Festival here in the Indonesian capital to raise awareness for millets as a farmer-friendly and sustainable food choice and create a market for millets-based products among the 10-member ASEAN bloc.
The Indian Mission to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare have jointly organised the ‘ASEAN-India Millets Festival’ starting November 22 during which a Millet-centric exhibition is being held featuring participation from Millet-based FPOs, start-ups and Indian chefs.
“The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) participated in the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit on September 7. During the ASEAN-India summit, one of the joint statements adopted was about food security," India's Ambassador to ASEAN Jayant Khobragade said.
"In two months, we are having the Millet Festival which also covers food security. That is how effectively our comprehensive strategic partnership is working,” he said.
Describing millets as one of the important elements for ensuring food security, he said this was very well in the overall framework of the ASEAN-India relationship.
“There is a lot of interest. For this millet festival, we have representation not only from Indian farmers and industrialists but also from ASEAN member states,” he added.
Khobragade also highlighted the crucial role of millet in addressing global hunger and nutrient deficiencies.
Arief Prasetyo Adi, Head of the National Food Agency (Badan Pangan Nasional (BPN)) Indonesia, underscored millets as a farmer-friendly and sustainable food choice for the future in the face of climate change.
He said that the ASEAN -India Millet Festival has an opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of millet, from nutritional status and environmental sustainability to economic development.
The ‘ASEAN-India Millets Festival’, at the Kota Kasablanka Mall, a prominent shopping destination in south Jakarta, aims to create a market for millets and millets-based products among the ASEAN Member states.
The 10 member countries of ASEAN are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Millets can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and are resilient to changes in climate. They are, therefore, an ideal solution for countries to increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains.
India spearheaded the UN General Assembly Resolution for declaring the year 2023 as the 'International Year of Millets', a move aimed at addressing food security challenges.
The Year will also promote the sustainable production of millets while highlighting their potential to provide new sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers.
India’s Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is leading a delegation at the event, representing a diverse set of professionals from Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), industry leaders and more.
A Millet-centric exhibition is being held as part of the festival featuring participation from Millet-based FPOs, start-ups and Indian chefs.
The exhibition also aims to foster collaboration between ASEAN countries, celebrate cultural and culinary diversity and promote sustainable millet practices for a healthier future.
The exhibition features five Indian FPOs, namely Citi Block FPC, Jewargi Taluka Millets FPC, Bhumitrajalalpur, Vaam Agro, and Lambasingi Tribal Products FPC, and two start-ups namely Taru Naturals and Sattva Millets and Food Products (Mibbles) exhibiting unique millet-added products such as millet cookies, namkeen, khakhra, cakes, and more.
Ankit Patel, who represented Ahmedabad-based Vaam Agro company that deals in spices, said that he started manufacturing the millets-based products just four months ago and till now the company has sold products worth Rs 50 lakhs.
"We have started with six Millets products, including Dhokla and Khakhra. Our products have got a great response," Patel said.
Indonesia-based Rizal Satria said that he started manufacturing millet-based products three years ago when very few people in his country knew about such products.
"Now more people know about it and we expect a steady growth in our Millets business of Millets," he said.
A major highlight of the festival is the live cooking workshop, where celebrity chefs from India and Indonesia will showcase the culinary potential of millets.