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Millets Experience Centre (MEC)

2023 MAY 1

Preliminary   > Agriculture   >   Crops   >   Food crops

Why in news?

  • The Indian government has launched Millets Experience Centre (MEC).

 About Millets Experience Centre:

  • Government of India launched a first of its kind Millets Experience Centre (MEC) in collaboration with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).
  • This initiative comes in light of the UNGA's declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023).
  • Millet has been referred to as ‘Shree Anna’ in Union Budget 2023-24.
  • The MEC is a unique concept that will promote millets as a versatile, healthy grain by showcasing its dietary benefits and offering customers a unique dining experience.
  • Visitors to the center can purchase a variety of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products from local millet start-ups.
  • The MEC will help widen the horizon for consumers who are actively looking for healthier alternatives.

About Millets:

  • Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for human food and as fodder.
  • They are also hardier and drought-resistant crops.


  • Economic security:
    • Low investment required:
      • Coarse cereals can be grown on dry, low-fertile, mountainous and rain-fed areas.
      • It requires little irrigation and no fertilizers at all.
      • A survey conducted by Deccan Development Society (DDS) indicates that 97 per cent of the households did not use fertilizers for millets.
    • Short cropping duration
      • Millets has cropping duration of 70-100 days, as against 120-150 days for paddy/wheat >> which allows millets to be a part of multiple cropping systems in both rain-fed and irrigated areas
    • Coarse cereals are photo-insensitive
      • Which means it do not require a specific photoperiod for flowering
    • More shelf life than rice/wheat:
      • Coarse cereals can be stored for a considerable amount of time under appropriate storage conditions, therefore making them ‘famine reserves’.
  • Sustainable agriculture
    • Most coarse cereals are xerophilic:
      • Which means they can reproduce with limited water input
      • Millets generally consumes 25-30% less water than sugarcane and rice, according to Food and Agriculture Organization.
      • For ex: Pearl millet/ bajra can grow on poor sandy soils and is well suited for dry climates due to its ability to use moisture efficiently.
    • Climate resilient crop:
      • Coarse cereals are generally thermophilic i.e thriving at relatively higher temperatures.
      • Small millets such as finger millet and Kodo millet can be grown in adverse climatic and soil conditions.
      • It has ability to grow on poor soils, hilly terrains and with little rain.
    • Carbon sequestration:
      • Millets are C4 carbon sequestrating crops contributing to the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • Nutritional security:
    • Coarse cereals have higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile. Also they are high in dietary fibre. They are also rich in micro nutrients like iron, zinc etc.
    • With high iron content, it can fight high prevalence of anaemia among women of reproductive age and infants.
    • Ragi is known to have the highest calcium content among all the food grains.
  • Health benefits:
    • Gluten free >> makes them easily digestible and non-allergenic foods
    • They have a low glycemic index (a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels) >> suitable for diabetic patients.
    • They contains phytate >> which is associated with reducing risk of cancer.
    • They also contain phyto-nutrients, including phytic acid, which is believed to lower cholesterol.


  • India, Nigeria and China are the largest producers of millets in the world, accounting for more than 55% of the global production.
  • For many years, India was a major producer of millets.
  • However, in recent years, millet production has increased dramatically in Africa.
  • In India, pearl millet is the fourth-most widely cultivated food crop after rice, wheat and maize.

Indian Millets:

  • The three major millet crops currently growing in India are jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet) and ragi (finger millet).
  • India also grows a rich array of bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “small millets” like kodo, kutki, chenna and sanwa.
  • Major producers include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.


Which of the following are the advantages of cultivating Millets?

1. They grows in poor soil conditions with less water

2. They have shorter cultivation cycles as compared to rice and wheat

3. They higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1,2 and 3