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2023 declared International Year of Millets

2023 declared International Year of Millets

The FAO will spend the year raising awareness about the crop and promote sustainable production

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Millets will have time in the international spotlight in 2023.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared this year as the International Year of Millets.

“Millets can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and are resilient to changes in climate,” the FAO’s website says. “They are therefore an ideal solution for countries to increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains.”

Millets can be used as livestock feed, to make alcohol, bread, beer, cereal and other items.

In Canada, millets are usually grown in Ontario and in Western Canada.

Proso millet arrived in Canada in the 17th century and was used as a forage crop in the early 1900s.

In June 2015, the B.C. government suggested millet as an alternative forage crop when irrigation water is limited, saying the crop has a high drought tolerance, a low-medium water use and high yield potential.

In Ontario, OMAFRA lists pearl millet as a potential cover crop.

One of its benefits is related to pest management.

“Research shows that a pearl millet cover crop (using CFPM101 developed at the Delhi AAFC Research Station) is an effective way to reduce root lesion nematodes provided it is weed free,” OMAFRA says.

India produces the most millet of any country.

In 2022, Indian farmers produced 12 million metric tons of millet, which represented about 39 percent of global millet.

The countries of Niger, China, Nigeria and Mali also produce significant amounts of millet.

The FAO has dedicated a calendar year to the promotion of a food product since 2004 – the International Year of Rice.

The FAO decided in March 2021 that millets would be the focus of 2023.

Farmers interested in growing millet can learn about successful practices from this 2021 Small Farm Canada article.

Growers can also follow the International Year of Millets on social media using the hashtag #IYM2023.

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