INTERNATIONAL NUTRI CEREAL CONVENTION (INCC) 5.0 was held on November 27-28, 2023, with the theme of “Mainstreaming Millets Now & Beyond 2023” in Novotel, HICC – Hyderabad. The objective of this convention was to bring together all the stakeholders from the Nutri Cereals industry, from producers to processors, and in turn to consumers, as well as researchers, academicians, and policymakers, who are working across the value chain to engage in meaningful and actionable discussions for the promotion of Nutri Cereals across the country.
Dr Raj Bhandari – Member of National Technical Board of Nutrition (NTBN) & consultant at Annapoorna Trust is formidable choice for advocacy, design and influence policies and programs. During the convention, he was part of various panel discussions on topics ranging from
- Strategies for Millet promotion beyond 2023- stakeholder perspectives
- Enabling policy transformation for mainstreaming millets in the country.
- Strategies for beyond 2023
Dr Raj Bhandari expressed his views on the importance of millets to help overcome silent diseases like hypertension or fatty liver. He also dealt with the topic of palatability. Palatability does not mean adding sugar, which is a day-to-day practice in the industry. Product modification has to take place.
He emphasised that things are not static or carved on stone. Mainstreaming millets will involve transformative change and disruption in markets since Millets have a very low general awareness currently. But the brighter side is that the Honourable Prime Minister is the brand ambassador and the govt. is playing a pro-active role and championing the cause. Even the foreign missions abroad have been directed to serve millet-based meal in flights, events etc. There is a push to get millet added to express foods. Anything that can be made from wheat, or flour, or rice can be made from millet.
Even though in the initial stages, we did not have the equipment or machinery, we now have the necessary equipments for production. Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) has enabled equipments and processing machines for people to get the processing done. CFTRI Mysuru, which is a centre of excellence, also enables handholding for institutes like Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) & Self-help groups (SHGs) . He finally advised the audience to get listed on the Social Stock Exchange for which due diligence is done by SEBI. Investors could get listed and invest money in CBO, FPO, NGO or any company. He concluded by stating that, multi-prong approach from stakeholders, producers, processors, consumers, researchers, academicians, and policymakers is an imminent requirement in “Mainstreaming Millets Now & Beyond 2023” which enables a healthier society.