India to promote biofortified varieties of millet to address malnutrition: Agri minister Tomar; 2023 to be the Year of Millets

India is becoming the destination country for healthy food items like millets and the government is promoting biofortified varieties to address malnutrition, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday said as he participated in the G-20 Agriculture Ministers meeting virtually.

Tomar said the United Nations (UN) has accepted India’s proposal and declared 2023 as international year of millets and urged the G-20 nations to support the celebration of the millet year to promote nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

“The Government of India has emphasised on re-introducing traditional food items including millet, other nutritious cereals, fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy and organic products in the diet of the people. Their production has been phenomenal in India in recent years and India is becoming a destination country for healthy food items,” an official statement quoted Tomar having said in his virtual address.

Tomar said biofortified-varieties, which are the source of staple diet rich in micro-nutrients, are being promoted to remove malnutrition. About 17 such varieties of different crops have been developed and released for cultivation.

The government has also taken steps to increase the optimal use of water resources, create infrastructure for irrigation, conserve soil fertility with balanced use of fertilizers, and provide connectivity from farms to markets, he added.

The minister was addressing a session on “Working together to achieve the Zero Hunger goal: successful projects implemented by the Ministries of Agriculture”.

Highlighting measures taken towards sustainable agriculture, the minister said the ‘Per Drop-More Crop’ scheme for irrigation and ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ for organic farming is being successfully implemented. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is being implemented to provide insurance cover for the farmers.

To address the malnutrition problem, India is running the world’s largest food-based safety net programme, which includes the Public Distribution System and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, he added. He reiterated India’s resolve to continue working together to achieve the Poverty Reduction’ and ‘Zero Hunger Goal as part of the sustainable development goals. Tomar led a four-member Indian delegation to the G20 Agriculture Ministerial meeting which was organised in a hybrid mode due to the pandemic.

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