Millets, the small-seeded grains are highly nutritious and resilient to drought and other environmental stresses. These have been traditionally grown in India for thousands of years. However, with the advent of modern agriculture and focus on high-yielding crops, the cultivation has declined significantly in recent decades, despite that India harvests 80 percent of Asia’s and 20 percent of the world’s production, with exports touching $26 million in 2020. UN declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYoM), hence efforts are also being made to educate farmers about better growing techniques and mainstreaming in millet production system globally.
The increased usage of millet in dairying can bring several positive changes to the dairy landscape in India. Here are some potential ways that can impact the dairy industry:
- Improved quality of milk: Millets are highly nutritious and can improve the quality of milk produced by dairy animals. The high fibre content in the grains can also help improve digestion and reduce the risk of digestive disorders in dairy animals.
- Increased milk production: Incorporating these grains into the diets of dairy animals has been shown to improve milk quality and increase milk production. A study by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute found that feeding millet-based diets to dairy animals resulted in higher milk yields and improved milk quality parameters.
- Diversification of dairy products: These can be used to produce a variety of dairy products, such as millet-based yogurts, cheese, and ice cream. This can help diversify the dairy industry and provide consumers with healthier and more nutritious options.
- Sustainable farming practices: In addition to their nutritional benefits, hese grains are also more sustainable to cultivate compared to other crops, requiring less water and fertilizer inputs. A study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research found that cultivating millets can help improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Promoting millet cultivation in India has the potential to bring positive changes to the dairy industry by improving milk quality and production, promoting sustainable farming practices, and diversifying dairy products. By incorporating them into the diets of dairy animals, farmers can potentially increase milk yields and improve the overall health of their animals.
Millets are grown in various regions of India, and their cultivation is largely influenced by factors such as climate, soil type, and local demand. Here are some of the millets that are grown in different regions of India:
- Pearl Millet (Bajra): These are primarily grown in Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra
- Finger Millet (Ragi): These are predominantly grown in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra
- Foxtail Millet (Kangni/Korra): It is mainly cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra
- Little Millet (Kutki): They are primarily grown in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra
- Kodo Millet (Kodon): Commonly cultivated in Maharashtra, Odisha, and Jharkhand.
- Barnyard Millet (Sanwa/Jhangora): They are mainly grown in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana.
- Proso Millet (Chena): These are predominantly cultivated in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh.
- Sorghum Millet (Jowar): Jowar is widely grown in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. It is a popular crop due to its drought-resistant nature and ability to grow in poor soils. Jowar is used for both human consumption and animal feed, and is a staple food in many parts of the world
These are just a few examples, and there may be variations in the millets grown in different regions depending on local demand and availability of resources.
Moreover, millets are more sustainable to cultivate compared to other crops, which can help farmers reduce their environmental impact and improve soil health. Overall, promoting millet cultivation in India can navigate the dairy sector toward enhanced productivity & profitability in a sustainable manner.
Centre of Excellence for Dairy Skills in India is tirelessly working towards making Dairying a sustainable enterprise for all stakeholders. We are Promoting Best in class dairying techniques through our capacity building programs/ projects which ultimately leads to increase in milk productivity & profitability. It is a proven fact that Millets can provide dairying new heights, hence we request all stakeholders to invest in Millets based dairying and products.