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Can Millets Solve India’s Nutrition Security Problems?

Can Millets Solve India’s Nutrition Security Problems?

The Indian School of Business and the National Institute of Nutrition hosted an expert panel discussion on 16 February, 2018 to debate the introduction of millets into India’s Public Distribution System.

Millets-Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi-are gaining popularity in India’s affluent circles due to their perceived medical and nutritional benefits. These coarse grains were once part of the staple diet of agrarian populations, but have now almost disappeared from rural diets. The shift might partially be traced to government-subsidised rice and wheat in the Public Distribution System (PDS). PDS was conceived to counter war-time food shortages and has existed in its current form since 1947. While variations between states exist, a below poverty line (BPL) family can register to get approximately 35 kg of food grain through the PDS. However, PDS beneficiaries often do not meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for micronutrients, such as iron and calcium, especially among women and children.

Against this backdrop, the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the Indian School of Business (ISB) came together to explore whether millets should be added to PDS-subsidised food rations, along with wheat and rice, to address RDA gaps for many nutrients. In order to initiate the study, NIN and ISB hosted a day-long discussion on February 16, 2018 at the ISB Hyderabad campus, with an expert panel including practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and academics. Read more…

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