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FSSAI Organizes Brainstorming Sessions on Sidelines of Global Millets Conference

On the sidelines of the World Millets (Shree Anna) Conference, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is hosting a symposium with technical talks on promotion and awareness of millets.

Shivam Dwivedi
Millets are storehouse of nutrition for children & adolescents
Millets are storehouse of nutrition for children & adolescents

On March 18, the two-day World Millets (Shree Anna) Conference got underway at the NASC Complex in Pusa, New Delhi. During the conference's opening session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi digitally launched a book titled "Shree Anna: A Holistic Overview," which is based on Millets standards developed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

"We are experiencing an agricultural revolution, with the world's most ancient crop becoming the present and future crop," stated G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, Chief Executive Officer, FSSAI, in his welcome address, laying the scene for the two-day conference.

Dr. V.K. Paul, member of NITI Aayog, stated in his talk that millets are beneficial to the customer, grower, and climate. In his keynote address, Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, stated that while millets have historically been cultivated, the total area under millets cultivation has decreased drastically. He stated that as we continue on this noble endeavour, it is critical to identify and address the fundamental cause of the decline.

Following the main event, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) hosted a symposium on the health and nutritional benefits of millets in the NASC Complex's AP Shinde Symposium Hall in the afternoon. On the first day, a number of eminent specialists from around the world expressed their perspectives and emphasised the significance of Shree Anna (Millets) in three separate sessions.

Jong-Jin Kim, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), spoke as a special guest during the session, emphasising FAO's commitment to enabling and supporting practises for better production, nutrition, and the environment in India and globally. Defining millet as a storehouse of nutrition for children and adolescents, Arjan De Wagt, Head Nutrition, UNICEF India, stated that numerous macro and micro nutrients in millets makes it 'Poshan Power' and including millets in the food basket will make it a 'Rainbow Diet'. He also emphasised the significance of 'diet literacy' in ensuring that people are aware of the benefits of a nutritious and balanced diet.

The value of millet as a superfood was explored in the convention's second session. The discussion was moderated by Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog. Dr. Aziz Elbehri, Indian Representative of FAO, Angelo de Queiroz Mauricio, Agriculture Representative, Embassy of Brazil in India, Ingeborg Bayer, Counsellor, Embassy of Germany, Mariano Beheran, Embassy of Argentina, and Nitin Verma, Counsellor Agriculture at the High Commission of Canada in India, provided valuable insights on the need for policy calibration, emphasising the current market status and creating market demand for millets.

The third session of the conference, moderated by senior sports journalist Ayaz Memon, featured celebrated athletes such as former Indian Cricket Team Captain Kapil Dev, Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist Wrestler Geeta Phogat, Athletics Champion Anju Bobby George, Chief National Coach of Indian Badminton Team Pullela Gopichand, and Former Chief Selector of Indian Cricket Team MSK Prasad sharing their perspectives on the theme ' The panel discussion emphasized the importance of an unique and tailored diet based on the format and type of game.

Several intriguing questions on millets and their health advantages were asked by those in the audience during all three sessions. The conference's goal is to bring together nutritionists, health experts, policymakers, industry leaders, international speakers, and key stakeholders to advance the government's various initiatives and to discuss millets consumption, health benefits, research, innovations, sustainability, and food system transformation.

Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, MoHFW, Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, DA&FW, Dr Himanshu Pathak, Secretary, DARE & DG (ICAR), G Kamala Vardhana Rao, Chief Executive Officer, FSSAI, Virtual presence of Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia and Dr. Mohd Irfaan Ali, President, Cooperative Republic of Guyana were present there.

Various Agriculture Ministers of millet producing nations and importing nations such as Gambia, Guyana, Niger, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Maldives, Mauritius along with representatives from Academia, Industry, Development partners such as UNICEF India, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Scientists, Experts, Farmer producer organisations (FPOs), Krishi Vigyan Kendras, participants from Indian diaspora abroad and senior officials from the government were present at the conference.

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