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Mainstreaming Millets. Policy Brief 5. : A Case for Strengthening Millet Value Chain through Value Added Millet Products

Author: WFP, India & Odisha Millet Mission
Millets are classified as “coarse grains” and are a part of staple diet in some parts of rural India. While millets are nutritionally superior to cereals, their consumption is skewed to subsistence farmers or families belonging to lower income strata. There has been newfound demand in urban markets, however it is yet not significant to accelerate movement across value-chain.

Millets are a super-food that has immense potential to improve dietary diversity. It is a hardy crop that is drought- and pest-resistant, is a part of subsistence diet and still faces significant hurdles in its forward market linkage. Production regions and processing zones don’t coincide in India, diverting consumption of value-added products to niche, urban markets. Postharvest processing is labor-intensive and often uses milling equipment meant for other grains, reducing grain recovery. RTE/RTC processing techniques are available, but its gluten-free nature restricts the kind of products created using millets as a base. Identifying the right technology for RTE/RTC production is prohibitively priced. While the Government has a dedicated IIMR for research and enterprise incubation, most projects run on a pilot basis or with private sector partners in a subdued role. There is a need for the Ministry of Food Processing Industries to encourage mechanization and create a conducive environment for pivoting research & development efforts to the private sector, with government aid (need-basis), identifying RTE/RTC processing as part of the MSME sector for credit access, decentralizing processing units to production sites, and creating employment opportunities, especially for women.