KENYA- In celebration of the International Year of Millets, the Ministry of Agriculture and Famers Welfare, India, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Kenya will be co-hosting the ‘India-Africa International Millet Conference’ in Kenya.
The official curtain raiser for the ‘India-Africa International Millet Conference’ scheduled for 30-31 August 2023, was held at Nairobi, Kenya on 6th July 2023, giving the audience a glimpse of what to expect.
The event was graced by the High Commissioner of India to Kenya, Joint Secretary (Crops), Government of India, Principal Secretary, Government of Kenya, and Director General, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
Officials from the agricultural sector of Kenya, members of the diplomatic community, international agricultural research leaders, farmers, and representatives from the private sector also attended.
Supported by ICRISAT, the international conference seeks to raise public awareness about millet as the ‘world’s emerging smart food.
Additionally, the global event would also help highlight the South-South exchange and collaboration opportunities within the realm of millets.
The declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations, after persistent efforts by the Indian government, was done to enhance awareness of the place of millet in food security and nutrition.
It is also meant to promote investment in research and development and inspire stakeholders towards improving production, productivity, and quality of millets.
Millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher protein levels and a more balanced amino acid profile. They also contain various phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
They are also drought-resistant, pest-resilient, climate-friendly crops that can boost income opportunities and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
“We need to strengthen the value chains of millets to ensure consumer demand which will then assure farmers of profitable markets”, Dr. Hughes DG ICRISAT noted at the curtain raiser event.
While enumerating the multiple benefits of millets, she spoke about the growing discourse around mechanization, seed systems, digital agriculture, and value addition in millets.
In her inaugural address, Ms. Shubha Thakur, JS (Crops), Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, noted how the conference would help highlight actionable strategies by leaders, investors, institutions, and individuals while serving as a medium for joint ventures, collaborations, and tech transfer among key stakeholders.
“The Government of India, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Millets Research, has been addressing concerns related to millet farming since 2018, when India celebrated its National Year of Millets… Our focus has been on ensuring sustainable agricultural practices and enhancing the commercial viability of millet cultivation. “Ms. Shubha Thakur added.
Mr. Phillip Kello Harsama, Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Government of Kenya, further emphasized the significance of millets in the economic advancement of smallholder farmers.
HE Namgya Khampa, the High Commissioner of India to Kenya, highlighted the importance of millets in addressing the issues of malnutrition and global hunger.
“We believe that collaboration between the global South in agriculture is crucial for maintaining food sufficiency in our countries,” she stated.