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India Inaugurates Five-day Millets Festival in Indonesia to Enhance Food Security with ASEAN

The Indian Mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, is set to organize the ASEAN-India Millet Festival 2023 from November 22–26, 2023. The festival would take place in Indonesia; the inauguration for the same has already been conducted in Kota Kasablanka Mall, a popular shopping destination in South Jakarta, Indonesia. Millet-based Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), start-ups, and Indian chefs would be participating in the festival, and a millet-centric exhibition would also be held.

This festival is aligned with the International Year of Millets (IYMs). Apart from that, the aim of the festival is to raise awareness about and create a market for millets and millet-based products in the ASEAN member countries, which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare would be leading a delegation at the festival consisting of start-ups, chefs, representatives from FPOs, state officials, industry leaders, etc. This diverse group of representatives are all professionals and experts in the millet ecosystem in India.

Millets for a Sustainable Future:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the ASEAN-India Summit and the East Asia Summit on September 7 this year. One of the joint statements adopted during the ASEAN-India summit had to do with enhancing food security. Ambassador of India to ASEAN, Mr. Jayant Khobragade, in his inaugural address, reminded the audience about the above statement, saying that in “two months we are having the Millet festival, which also covers food security. That is how effectively our comprehensive strategic partnership is working.” He also highlighted the important role played by millets in tackling issues of global hunger and nutrient deficiencies. Mr. Khobragade also informed the audience that “there is a lot of interest. For this millet festival, we have representation not only from Indian farmers and industrialists but also from ASEAN member states.” Adding to him, Head of the National Food Agency, Badan Pangan Nasional (BPN), Indonesia, Mr. Arief Prasetyo Adi, also pointed out how millets can be a farmer-friendly and sustainable food choice for the future in the face of the ongoing climate crisis. Furthermore, he highlighted how raising awareness about millets can benefit the global population not only due to the nutritional value millets contain but also their potential for environmental sustainability and economic development.

Highlights of Event:

There were several panel discussions during the inaugural event, led by Indian delegates. The discussions focused on how India has been at the forefront of enhancing the business potential of grain. It was followed by insightful discussions and exchanges. The exhibition is aimed at fostering collaboration between India and ASEAN by celebrating the cultural and culinary practices of the participants, making way for a healthier future. The highlight of the event will be a live cooking demonstration by popular chefs from India and Indonesia who will be preparing dishes made out of millets.

Millets can grow in the most impossible of climates and are the most suitable for countries affected by the climate crisis. Its cultivation will reduce reliance on cereal-based grains, which are expensive for many economies. In this regard, an active collaboration between India and ASEAN will surely pave the way for a healthier and more sustainable future.