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Millets were the first crops to be domesticated by the mankind in Asia & Africa which later on spread across the globe as critical food sources to the evolving civilizations. In India, millets have been mentioned in some of the oldest Yajurveda texts, thus indicating that millet consumption was very common, pre-dating to the Indian Bronze Age (4,500BC).
Until 60 years ago millets were among the major grains grown in India. From a staple food and integral part of local food cultures, just like many other things, millets have come to be looked down upon by modern urban consumers as “poor man’s food” & “coarse grains” – something that their village ancestors may have lived on, but that they had left behind and exchanged for a more “refined” diet. Rice has replaced millets to be eaten directly, while wheat flour has replaced flours made out of millets, and is now used extensively to make Indian breads.
Today, a lot of efforts are being put to increase the demand of millets in India and the world, including changing the mindset of the people. Many organizations are coming up in support of this cause. Efforts are being taken to educate farmers about better millets growing techniques. Thanks to these efforts, the past few years have witnessed a growing popularity of Millets, especially among the growing health conscious population.
Compared to rice and wheat, millets need less water and no chemicals/pesticides. Millets are good for consumption even after 10-12 years of growing, thus playing an important role in keeping a check on food wastage. Millets can come up in marginal land and harsh weather conditions where no other crop can grow and assure minimum yield even in case of failure of the monsoon. So as global warming is increasing, millets resume greater importance for sustained agriculture and food security.