This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Millets”. The topic “Millets” has relevance in the Agriculture and Food Security section for the UPSC CSE exam.

Relevance of Millets

For Prelims:

What are Millets?

Which Millets are grown in India?

For Mains:

GS 3: Agriculture, Food Security

Why are Millets Important for the Environment And Food Security?

Why in the news?

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar along with Managing Director, NAFED, commemorated the launch of the first of its kind ‘Millets Experience Centre (MEC)’ at Dilli Haat, INA, New Delhi. NAFED in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) established the Millets Experience Centre with an aim to raise awareness on Millets and encourage its adoption among the general public.

What are Millets?

Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses that are cultivated as cereal crops for food and fodder. They are highly nutritious and resilient crops that can grow in diverse agro-climatic conditions with minimal water requirements. Millets have been staple crops in many parts of the world, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions.

Which Millets are grown in India?

  • Pearl Millet: Also known as Bajra, it is one of the most widely cultivated millets and is particularly important in arid and semi-arid regions of Africa and India.
  • Finger Millet: Also known as Ragi or Nachni, it is commonly grown in India, Africa, and other parts of Asia.
  • Foxtail Millet: It is one of the oldest cultivated millets and is grown in various parts of Asia, including India and China. It has a high tolerance for drought and is used for human consumption as well as for animal feed.
  • Little Millet: It is a small-grained millet that is cultivated in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia. It is primarily used for human consumption and is known for its high nutritional value.


Why are Millets Important for the Environment And Food Security?

  • Climate Resilience: Millets are known for their adaptability to diverse agro-climatic conditions, including arid and semi-arid regions. They have a remarkable ability to withstand heat, drought, and low soil fertility, making them suitable for cultivation in areas where other crops may struggle. By promoting millet cultivation, farmers can reduce their vulnerability to climate change and maintain agricultural productivity even in challenging environments.
  • Water Conservation: Millets have low water requirements compared to major cereal crops like rice and wheat. They are considered drought-tolerant crops, requiring significantly less irrigation.
  • Soil Health and Conservation: Millets are known for their ability to grow in poor soil conditions. They have a deep root system that helps improve soil structure and fertility. The cultivation of millets can enhance soil health by preventing erosion, promoting organic matter accumulation, and reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and chemical inputs. 
  • Biodiversity and Crop Diversity: Promoting the cultivation of millets contributes to agricultural biodiversity and crop diversity. Millets are part of traditional agricultural systems and have been cultivated for centuries, contributing to cultural heritage and local food traditions. By diversifying cropping patterns and promoting the cultivation of millets, we can preserve traditional knowledge, protect indigenous crop varieties, and maintain a wider range of agricultural biodiversity.
  • Reduced Pesticide Dependency: Millets have a natural resistance to pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. By cultivating millets, farmers can minimize pesticide use and its associated environmental and health risks. 
  • Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Millet cultivation typically involves lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to other major cereal crops. Millets have a shorter growth cycle and require less intensive agricultural practices, leading to reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, the potential for carbon sequestration in millet-growing systems can contribute to climate change mitigation.

Source: PIB

Q.1 “Considering the climate importance of millets, which of the following characteristics make them environmentally sustainable and resilient crops in the context of climate change?”

  1. Drought tolerance and low water requirements
  2. Ability to grow in diverse agro-climatic conditions.
  3. Contribution to soil health and conservation
  4. Natural resistance to pests and diseases
  5. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

(a)1 and 2 only

(b)1,2 and 3 only

(c)1,3 and 4 only

(d)1,2,3,4 and 5 only


Q.2 “Which of the following statements is correct regarding the role of millets in enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture?”

(a) Millets are high-yielding crops that require intensive irrigation, making them crucial for ensuring food security.

(b) Millets are climate-resilient crops that require minimal water and can grow in diverse agro-climatic conditions, contributing to food security.

(c) Millets have low nutritional value and are not considered significant for addressing food security challenges.

(d) Millets are primarily used as animal feed and have limited relevance in ensuring food security for human populations.



Q.3 “Discuss the role of millets in enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture, highlighting their nutritional benefits, climate resilience, and impact on rural livelihoods. How can the promotion of millets contribute to achieving food security goals in India?” (15 marks)

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