Food security means the availability at all times of adequate supplies of basic food stuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006). There are plenty of challenges that are required to be tackled, such as development of foods that would be able to withstand climatic changes, as well as be able to meet the growing demands for food for India’s growing population, apart from being able to eradicate the problems associated with malnutrition. Bearing all these factors in mind, there has arisen the necessity to think about increased production of millets and millet-based foods.

Millets, also referred to as nutri-cereals are small seeded grasses and also one of the oldest known cereals. They are hardy, resilient crops that have a low water as well as carbon footprint. There are different varieties of millets that are grown in India- Soghum (Jowar), Pearl millet (Bajra), Finger millet (Ragi), Small millet (Kuthi), Kodo millet (Kodo), Barnyard millet (Sawa/ Jhanjora), Foxtail millet (Kangni) and Proso millet (Cheena) (The Organic Magazine, 2022). The millet industry can be categorized as mentioned in Figure 1.

There are certain factors that have led to an increase in the demand for millets in the recent years and they are as follows (Millet Market, 2022):

• Resilient to climate change;
• Draught tolerant;
• Can survive high temperature and low rainfall (200-600 mm);
• Can grow in poor soil and no external fertilizers required;
• Help to fortify nutrients;
• Rich nutritional composition;
• Gluten-free; non-allergic;
• Help to replenish nutrients;
• Immunity boosters.

Nutritional Content and Health Aspects of Millets

Millets are the rich source of dietary fibre, proteins, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates. These are low glycaemic index foods that help to maintain the blood-glucose levels.
• Carbohydrates: The carbohydrates in the form of lignans, β-glucan, inulin and resistant starch are present. These act as dietary fibre and prebiotics. They improve the gut health and prevent other digestive disorders. (Dayakar et al, 2022)

• Polyphenols: Some of the phenolic compounds like ferulic acid and caffeic acid are also found in millets. These act as anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and neuro-protective compounds, thereby helping prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Parkinson’s disease, (Dayakar et al, 2018). These compounds can damage viral RNA and DNA sequences, thus making them anti-viral and anti-bacterial and act as immunity boosters. (Aknabi et al, 2019 and Kaur et al, 2014)

• Minerals: Millets are a rich source of minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron. (Dayakar et al, 2022)

• Vitamins: Vitamin B12 (Folic acid) is mainly found in Kodo millet and Sorghum. (Dayakar et al, 2022)

Millets Market in India

India is the highest producer of millets globally. Millets are produced in 21 states of India, however the major contributors have been from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The top 5 millet producing states in India are shown in Figure 2. (Dayakar et al, 2022)

Millet flakes bowl board

Moreover, India is the fifth largest exporter of millets to countries such as Nepal, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, UK, Yemen, Oman and Algeria. It has been estimated that in the Global Millet Market, the Millets production in the year 2028 would be valued at around US$14.4 billion from US$9.95 billion in 2020, achieving a compounded annual growth rate of 4.49%. (Fig. 3) (Agri Exchange Report, 2022)


Taking into consideration the current challenges faced by the world, due to factors such as climate change that have led to a decline in the production of rice and wheat; thereby making it difficult to meet the demand for foods to be served to the population suffering from malnutrition, incorporation of millets and millet-based foods into the regular diet of individuals can be one of the ways to combat problems associated with malnutrition and food security. The characteristics possessed by millet-based foods make them ideal for a heavily populated country such as India. Although, the millets yield is not as popular as that of wheat and rice, (Dayakar et al, 2022) applying advanced technologies in the Food Industry can help in improving the yields and productivity. As per the market analysis, millets are one of the important resources that can play an important role in increasing their consumption as well as ensure food security in the future. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has also declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets.


1. The Organic magazine-

2. Agri-exchange (APEDA)-

3. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-

4. Dayakar R, Sood D, Ratnavathi, V.C. (2022). Millets-The Future Superfood for India. Policy report, pp. 1-50

5. Dayakar R, Kandlakunta B, Christina ADG, & Tonapi V. (2018). Nutritional and Health Benefits of Millets, pp. 1-104.

About the Author:
Parul Thapar
Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science & Technology,
School of Science, GITAM Deemed University, Hyderabad.
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An editor by day & dreamer at night; passionately involved with both print and digital media; Pet lover; Solo traveller.

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