By Princess-Ekwi Ajide Abuja
India and Nigeria say they are willing and ready to take their millets initiatives to the next level following the recognition of millet by the United Nation, UN, as the king of crops hence it pronounced the year 2023 as the year of millets.
Celebrating the day in Abuja, the High Commission of India in collaboration with Niger State as part of Nigeria Millet Initiative, brought together members of the Indian community, Nigerian dignitaries, a high-level Indian and Nigeria representatives from the agricultural sector, Export Promotion Council, the traditional institution among others
It was an infusion of culture and culinary acts at the International Day of Millets, 2023 tagged ‘Millets food festival and cooking competition’ as several cultural performances from Niger State artists and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture thrilled the guests while the aroma from a cooking contest showcasing the various dishes that could be made with millet filled the air.
Addressing the assemblage, the High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, Sheri Balasubramanian, noted that, the International Year of Millets which came into being after India proposed it and was supported by over 70 nations including Nigeria at the United Nations General Assembly, would provide a unique opportunity to increase global production, ensure efficient processing and consumption, promote a better utilization of crop rotations, and encourage better connectivity throughout food systems to promote millets as a key component of the food basket.
HE STRESSED THAT MILLETS ARE AMONG THE FIRST PLANTS TO BE DOMESTICATED AND ARE CONSIDERED “NUTRI-CEREALS” DUE TO THEIR HIGH NUTRITIONAL CONTENT AND HAVE SERVED AS A TRADITIONAL STAPLE FOR HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AND ASIA FOR 7000 YEARS AND ARE NOW CULTIVATED ACROSS THE WORLD.
In his speech, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mahammad Abubakar, represented by a Director in the ministry, Engineer Abubakar Abdullahi, said Nigeria’s ministry of agriculture is doing everything possible to ensure it meets the target of producing 4.2milliion tonnes of millets annually through research and development.
He said they have realized the importance of the millet value chain and are encouraging small holder farmers to engage in millet production because of the various positive outcomes in form of value chain.
The Chairman of Nigeria Millets Initiatives and the Etsu Nupe, His Royal Highness Alhaji Yahaya Abubaker, described the celebration as a very significant one as it will assist the various efforts of the federal government aimed at ensuring food security, promoting food production and agricultural activities.
The event was an opportunity for many to wind down after the stress of the week while for some others, it was an opportunity to mingle, build relationships and partnerships.