International Year of Millets 2023: Why are Millets so popular?

The year 2023 was declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023). This was at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (1)

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) led a technical session in 2022 in FAO, Rome at the launch of the IYM2023. The Director General of ICRISAT, Jacqueline Hughes, stated how the negative impacts of climate change are getting noticed by the world and millet is getting all the attention as a “future crop”.

The international millet year is a way to call attention to and promote millet. This is because, in the last decade, millet consumption dropped by 77% in urban areas and 83% in rural areas. Millets have lost their popularity and growth to wheat, rice, and maize. The 2023 year of millets is to create awareness of the many benefits of millets and increase consumption.

In this blog, we will explore the sudden popularity of millets and by the end, you will understand what is achieved by celebrating the national year of millets.

What is Millet?

Over 4000 years ago, millets were cultivated and they soon became a traditional crop for several countries like China, India, Japan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and other African and Asian countries.

Millets have a low glycaemic index, are gluten-free, and have a wide range of nutritional benefits. It contains nutrients like fibre, protein, minerals, and key vitamins (2). Millets can grow in harsh conditions like in environments that are drought-prone, in poor soils, and in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius. They can even adapt to drylands. Millets have minimal risk to communities and farmers.

The cultivation and processing method of millet has changed over the course of time. The traditional method of cultivation and processing has been built on and changed to reach the modern way of cultivation and processing to get the best out of the millet. These new methods have beneficial effects on the millet.

Importance of millet in Indian culture and cuisine.

The Importance of millet in India extends well beyond its nutritional contribution to Indian cuisine. Millets affect India’s agriculture, economy, climate, etc.

  • Millets are ancient food grains and traditional food for over 59 crore people in Asia.
  • Millets can adapt to numerous ecological conditions and can address future issues like Climate Change, food, fuel, feed, health, and malnutrition. It demands less water and fits well in infertile soil.
  • There are nine types of millets in India. Sorghum, Finger Millet, and Pearl Millet cover 95% of India’s millet growing area and the remaining like Foxtail Millet, Little Millet, and Browntop Millet covers 5% of the area. 
    organic foxtail millet
  • India is the country with the highest production of millet in the globe and also the 5th largest millet exporter.
  • Millets address the need for feeds for cattle and it has the potential to produce biofuel. (3)
  • As the demand for millet increases, it creates more business opportunities.


There are other types of millet like Proso Millet, Kodo Millet, and Barnyard Millet that are readily available for you to get all the same nutritional values.

barnyard millet

The International Year of Millets 2023

The Indian government suggested the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM2023) to the United Nations and was supported by 72 other countries. This initiative is to bring about awareness of the benefits of millet now and in the future.

For the 2023 year of millets, the initiative is to:

  1. Increase the millet contribution to food security.
  2. Increase global production of millets
  3. Ensure efficient processing, transporting, storing, and consumption of millet.
  4. Sustain millet quality and production by involving stakeholders.

Achievements of Celebrating Such Years

With 2023 as the national year of millets, we are bound to see a significant change in the growth and distribution of millet. All the countries participating are going to bring awareness to the many benefits of millet to our health and world.

2023 as the millet year would do a lot of good in bringing millet back to the forefront and making it as important as other grains. This can be the start of a global change that would benefit the world in various ways.

To wrap up, you now know the following.

  • That 2023 was made the International millet year by the UN.
  • The millet year is to bring about awareness of all the benefits of millet to the world.
  • An understanding of how and why millet is a “future crop” and what is millet.
  • The history and importance of Millet in India go beyond cuisine.
  • The initiative and activities happening in the national year of millets.

The International Year of Millets 2023 (IYM2023) promotes the benefits of millet and its role in creating sustainable agriculture and economy.


Proso millet adapts to climatic conditions and many soils. It also requires little water and has a short growing season. 

organic proso millet

FAQs For International Year Of Millets

Q. What is Millets Day?

A: Millets Day is a special day that happens every year on April 19th. It is a day when people try to teach others about the good things that can come from eating millet, like how it can make us healthy and help the environment. The day started in India in 2018 and now many people all over the world celebrate it. It's even become so important that the United Nations recognizes it as an important day for everyone to learn about millet.

Q. What is the International Year of Millets?

A: The International Year of Millets was declared by the UN to happen in the year 2023. This is to bring about awareness of all the benefits of millet to various aspects of the country and the world at large.

Q. Why are millets considered a superfood?

A: Millets have a high source of macronutrients like vitamins, protein, fibre, and minerals such as magnesium and calcium. The types of millet that are in the superfood category include pearl millet, sorghum, finger millet, buckwheat, and foxtail millet.

Q. What are the health benefits of consuming millet?

A: Millets are a great source of protein, minerals, fibre, and key vitamins. They are also gluten-free making them the ideal food for people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease.

Q. How can millets contribute to sustainable agriculture and rural development?

A: Millets require less pesticide and fertiliser for cultivation, unlike mainstream cereals. They demand less water and fit well in infertile soil making them a low-risk crop for communities and farmers.

Q. Millet is which type of crop?

A: Millet is a type of crop that people can eat or give to animals for food. It is a group of small plants that have seeds and belong to the grass family. Millet is grown in many parts of the world, especially in Africa and Asia, and it can grow even in places where the soil is not very good or the weather is tough.

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