The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) says millet has potential to help Nigeria achieve food security because of its nutritional values. FAO Country Director, Fred Kafeero, who disclosed this during the commemoration of the International Year of Millets in Abuja, said the grain has immense nutritional value with meaningful contribution to food security, poverty alleviation, and sustainable agriculture.
According to him, “the celebration is an opportunity to spotlight the untapped opportunities within Nigeria’s agricultural sector and reinvigorate the role of millets as a key driver of economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.”
Kafeero stressed the need for collaborative efforts to transform the narrative surrounding millet and elevate it from being a mere staple to a strategic crop that can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
He said: “Our collaborative efforts throughout this year will be on raising awareness about the multiple benefits of millets, sharing best practices and innovative approaches for millet production and utilisation, and fostering public-private partnerships to enhance value chains and market access for millet farmers. In the process, empowering women and youths in recognising their pivotal role as agents of change in the agricultural sector.”
Kafeero urged stakeholders to embrace the potential of the extraordinary grains in promoting food security, better nutrition and income for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ernest Umakhihe, in his remarks, noted that the seminar and exhibition sessions in Nigeria are part of series of events holding in various countries in Africa, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Togo and India, saying the global initiative is aimed at creating awareness about the importance of millet and its remarkable potential in addressing food security challenges.
While citing the immense economic potential of the staple crop, Umakhihe said in line with the Global Market Insights Inc., the world’s millet market value is estimated to surpass $12b by 2025, adding millet play critical role in ensuring food and nutrition security, as well as its potential to contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2, 3, 12, and 13.
The Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Fl Buker JJAR, said as part of efforts to make millet popular, the Government of India had proposed to the United Nations General Assembly in March 2021 to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets, saying the proposal had the support of Nigeria and over 70 other nations.
He disclosed that India has extended cooperation towards Nigeria to provide assistance with technical and knowledge sharing relating to millet crops, including research and development for the development of better varieties, as well as value chains for small farm holders under the Nigeria Millet Initiative.