Ragi has a long history of use in India. More than 2000 years ago, Ragi, or finger millet, was a highly prized nutritious crop in traditional agricultural methods in India. It originated in Africa and was brought to India by sea around 2000 BCE. Ragi, along with many other millets, formed significant ingredients of the everyday diet in India, until nearly five to six decades ago. Rustic and coarse, yet nutritious, it fell by the wayside as people began to favour more refined diets. With the year 2023 declared as the ‘International Year of Millets,’ by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), spearheaded by the Government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ragi, with its innumerable health benefits, is slowly finding its resurgence among urban and rural populations alike. Annapoorna Trust, with its initiatives of launching ragi or the finger millet in the Morning Nutrition program, has played a key role in the revival of this Superfood.
The SaiSure Ragi variant, prepared in the Trust’s very own SaiSure Nutraceutical Manufacturing facility, is being served to government school-going children over the last six months, in Telangana state and further expanding to Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. Akin to the SaiSure Multi Nutrient health mix, essential micro, and macronutrients are added to the SaiSure Ragi variant making it a complete wholesome meal. To satisfy the local palates of children, it is prepared in cardamom and cinnamon flavours. Easy to prepare and tasty to drink, this health mix has received positive feedback from teachers, cooks, and children.
The simple and humble finger millet is a superfood that offers a bounty of nutritional benefits encompassing all the essential macronutrients – carbohydrates, fibres, fats, and proteins, along with a noteworthy level of key micronutrients – vitamins and minerals. In addition, ragi contains considerable quantities of vitamins C and E, to boost immune, skin, and hair health. Being a good source of natural calcium, Ragi strengthens bones in growing children. It is also high in B complex vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. Ragi malt with jaggery is said to be a good medicine in the prevention of anaemia. Regular consumption of ragi can help reduce the risk of diabetes. Ragi has huge amounts of fibre when compared to other whole wheat grains.
Regular consumption of millets, ragi in particular, is known to significantly improve the key nutrition parameters among growing children. A powerhouse of nutrition, it can be a game changer in addressing the challenges of ‘hidden hunger.’