01 August 2023, Africa: Malawi hosted a pre-conference event leading up to the India-Africa International Millet Conference toward promoting the cultivation, production, and consumption of millets as a sustainable and nutritious ‘Smart Food’ in the country.
Organized by the Government of India with the support of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the workshop featured presentations by industry leaders, both local and international.
The workshop was a run-up to the India-Africa International Millet Conference, which will be held between 30th to 31st August 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya.
In a keynote address, His Excellency S Gopalakrishnan, the Indian High Commissioner to Malawi, spoke on the significance of the India-Africa International Millet Conference (IAIMC) as a driver of the South-South cooperation framework.
“There is a need for collaborative efforts between nations to promote knowledge exchange and expertise, especially between India and Africa. IAIMC will give stakeholders an opportunity to promote millets as a smart food choice, enhance food security and increase country reliance and independence,” said HE Gopalakrishnan.
Dr Grace Kaudzu, the Director of Agriculture Research Services in the Government of Malawi, underscored the significance of millet as a nutritious and resilient food source. She highlighted the Ministry’s ongoing efforts to strengthen every aspect of the value chain, reaffirming its commitment to the development of millet agriculture in Malawi.
“It is important to address the entire millets value chain, from farmers to end-users, to promote commercialization and maximize its potential benefits. I want to thank ICRISAT for driving this agenda and urge all of us to help disseminate information about the profitability of millets to farmers, “said Dr Kaudzu.
ICRISAT plays a pivotal role in advancing sustainable agriculture and food security. It operates across Asia and in various African countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal.
Dr Rebbie Harawa, Africa Director at ICRISAT, spoke on the significance of economic development partnerships between India and Africa. She highlighted millets’ climate resilience, nutritional value, gender transformative approaches, and ICRISAT’s interventions that benefit smallholder farmers.
“ICRISAT is committed to developing various sorghum and millet varieties. It is therefore important to maintain momentum through continued collaboration, knowledge sharing, and partnerships among stakeholders, ensuring sustained growth and impact beyond the International Conference,” said Dr Harawa.
Mr George Mvula, the Head of Policy at FAO, noted the pressing issue of food security posed by the increasing population. To tackle this challenge, he emphasized the need to explore viable options, such as millets, which are not only affordable but also highly nutritious and drought tolerant.
The workshop documented country-specific insights on millet production and formulated recommendations for millet promotion.
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