The Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India organized a 2-day Millets Fair-cum-Exhibition at the ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Rajasthan is the largest producer of millet in India contributing more than 16 percent share in India’s production.
The two-day event was aimed at bringing all the stakeholders of the food processing sector with a special focus on millets, on a common platform and encompassed a wide range of activities like exhibition and sale of various millet-based products, live kitchen, millet recipe demonstration, sharing of success stories, informative sessions on millet processing, interactive sessions between industry experts and micro food processing enterprises, SHGs, FPOs engaged in food processing followed by cultural programs. The event witnessed an overwhelming response with more than 1000 participants attending the event including micro food processing enterprises, self help groups, farmer producer organizations, producer cooperatives, etc.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Government of India and Member of Parliament, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State, Food Processing Industries & Jal Shakti, Government of India and Kailash Choudhary, Minister of State, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India interacted with the Millet-based food processors and tasted their products showcased at the exhibition organized during the event. During the valedictory ceremony, the exhibitors were felicitated by the dignitaries.
Speaking on the occasion, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat talked about the changing food consumption pattern and habits around the world with the introduction of Ready-to-Eat and Ready-to-Cook food products. He stated that the changing landscape poses an opportunity and Millets can be incorporated in this dynamic environment. Speaking about the food processing sector, he emphasized on the necessity of the next generation of farmers to be sensitized and trained in processing, value addition and marketing.
In his address, Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State, Food Processing Industries & Jal Shakti, stated that with the declaration of the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations, the country has come a long way on the journey to restore the glory of Millets under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. He also stated that earlier there were no scientific parameters to evaluate the various qualities of Millets but with the advancement of technology, Millets have now come to the forefront as a superior crop in all aspects.
He spoke about benefitting the farmers directly and touched upon the importance of food processing as an important link to bridge the gap. He added further by mentioning the need to boost the food processing sector of the country and the role of schemes like PMFME (Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises) Scheme and PLI (Production Linked Incentive) Scheme in transforming the sector. He also emphasized the government’s focus on the creation of food testing laboratories to better the quality parameters which in turn would provide immense market scope for value-added products.
During his address, Kailash Choudhary, Minister of State, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare mentioned about the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in taking Millets (Shree Anna) to the global scale. Talking about the health and environmental benefits of Millets, he mentioned that India is the leading producer of Millets and the farmers of the country should be encouraged to to set up their own food processing units. He applauded the various schemes by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India that have been designed to support and empower farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs of the country. He also urged the participants to take a pledge to use Millets as part of their household meals and promote inclusion of millets.
The event also witnessed an exhibition showcasing various Millet-based Ready to Eat Products like Sorghum and Bajra Puffs; Bakery Products like Sorghum Cookies, Foxtail Millet Cake, Muffins; Ready-to-Eat products like Millet Laddu, Instant Mixes like Sorghum Idli Mix, Multi Rawa Kesari; Ready-to-Cook products like Millet Flour, Millet Vermicelli, Pearl Millet Pasta and other products like Millet Khichdi by various Micro Entrepreneurs along with processing machinery. The products were also open for sale, providing a great opportunity for the micro-entrepreneurs to not only participate in technical sessions but also generate revenue and forge partnerships for stronger market reach.