Millets are among the first plants to be domesticated and are considered "nutri-cereals" due to their high nutritional content. They have served as a traditional staple for hundreds of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for 7 000 years, and are now cultivated across the world. However, their cultivation is declining in many countries, and their potential to address climate change and food security is not being realized in full. This is despite the fact that millets can grow on relatively poor soils and under adverse and arid conditions, with comparatively fewer inputs than other cereals.
The need to promote the diversity and nutritional and ecological benefit of millets to consumers, producers, value chain actors, and decision makers is timely, and can improve food sector linkages.
As such, a proposal for an International Year of Millets (2023) was brought forward by the Government of India and endorsed by Members of FAO Governing Bodies, as well as by the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
The International Year will (i) elevate awareness of the contribution of millets for food security and nutrition (ii) inspire stakeholders on improving sustainable production and quality of millets; and (iii) draw focus for enhanced investment in research and development and extension services to achieve the other two aims.