Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 17: CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) will be coming up with a comprehensive plan to promote production and value-addition of millets on scientific and sustainable lines by the end of this year, considering India’s scope to emerge as a millet production hub.
This was disclosed by Dr C Anandharamakrishnan,Director, CSIR-NIIST,Thiruvananthapuram, while presiding over the thematic session of the Millet Conclave titled ‘Shree Anna’, held on the penultimate day of the One Week One Lab (OWOL) programme of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Though there is a growing awareness that millets are going to be a major component of food plates the world over, their cultivation, value-addition and promotion are faced with critical hurdles, which need to be overcome. CSIR-NIIST has been working seriously to address these issues and a thorough plan will be ready by the year-end, Dr Anandharamakrishnan said.
The Millet Conclave, which coincides with the declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations, is a key segment of OWOL launched by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, to showcase the achievements and breakthrough of each of the 37 constituent laboratories of CSIR. The OWOL will conclude tomorrow with an ‘Open Day’ event,facilitating the public to visit the CSIR-NIIST campus at Pappanamcode in the city.
Extension of field-level technology to augment production and scientific processes for value-addition and extension of shelf-life of products are two critical areas that need to be addressed urgently. It is also important to have a data base to take the promotional projects forward. The CSIR-NIIST plan will be focusing on these areas, he said.
Noting that millets have not received sufficient institutional support so far unlike rice and wheat, he said since their cultivation remains a complex and labour-intensive process making available field-level machines to farmers is vital to scale up production.
In his inaugural address to the session, Dr Ajith Kumar Shasany, Director, CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow, said world class facilities offering food processing technologies should be created for achieving high-quality valueof agricultural produce that would benefit both farming sector and industry.
He also emphasised taking uptime-bound interdisciplinary translational research programmes in flagship areas for producing affordable nutrition products and putting in place alternate processing technologies for perishable produce.
Dr M Loganathan, Director (i/c),National Institute of Food Processing Technology,Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) Thanjavur, said that apart from providing institutional support to farmers, creation of incubation facilities for value-addition of produce is also vital to make millet production viable.
“Good quality, good taste and long-shelf life are the three key parameters for commercial success of millet products, for which a growing market is available in India and abroad”,
Dr Loganathan said.
Dr AshokS Alur, Director, Centre of Excellence for Farmer Producer Organisations, University of Horticultural Sciences, Bengaluru, said this is the opportune time for India to augment and mainstream millet production and consumption.
Sharing the progress made by Karnataka through initiatives like formation of FPOs, Dr Alur said if scientists, promoters and policy-makers come together to support farmers, India could emerge as a major global millet cultivation hub.
The UN resolution declaring 2023 as Year of Millet has called for raising awareness on climate resilient and nutritional benefits of millets and promoting their production and consumption, he said.
Dr. Anjan Ray, Director, CSIR-IIP, was also present at the session.
The opening session was followed by a panel discussion covering diverse aspects of promoting millet cultivation and value-addition in a scientific and sustainable fashion. Dr Lalita Goyal, Senior Principal Scientist, Directorates-Interface-CSIR, New Delhi; Dr Meera MS, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR-CFTRI, Mysuru, Mr Vikram Sankaranarayanan, Director, Borne Technologies, Coimbatore, Dr K P Sudheer, Head, RAFTAAR, KAU, Thrissur and Dr M G Malleshi, Chief Scientist (Rtd), CSIR-CFTRI were among the panellists.
Speakers at the Agro and Food Processing Export Conclave said scientific interventions are important in value-addition of agricultural produce to ensure quality, market acceptability and sustainability.
CSIR-NIIST Director Dr C Anandharamakrishnan, Dr Lalitha Goyal, Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR, Dr S Nagesh, Chief, Agriculture Division, Kerala State Planning Board; Mr Jimmy Jose, Head-HR& Corporate Communication, SynthiteIndustries Ltd;Dr Deepthi Nair, Director, Coconut Development Board, Dr Ramesh Babu N, Scientist, Spices Board and Mr Shrinivasan Ramasamy, CEO, Apex Coco and Solar Ltd spoke at the session.