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International Year of Millets 2023: “Mobilizing Action for Improved Nutrition and Livelihoods.”

Photo credit; Juliet Nangamba

In March 2021, the United Nations General Assembly at its 75th session declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM) under the theme, ‘unleashing the potential of millets for the wellbeing of the people and the environment.’

CTDT, The Indian High Commissioner together with other Civil Society Organizations (CSO) hosted an event in commemoration of the year of the millets. Other stakeholders represented at this event included The National Food and Nutrition Commission, The Ministry of Agriculture through the Zambia Agricultural Institute (ZARI), The University of Zambia and members of the public. The event dubbed International Year of Millets Campaign was aimed at raising public awareness about sustainable production, marketing, and consumption of millets and direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions. Follow this link for more insight about the event:

The world suffers multiple crises of malnutrition, climate change, poverty and food insecurity. As we upheld this special declaration by the UN, we looked to our millets as a solution to some of the world’s crises. Millets play a significant role in contributing to food and nutrition security. Their ability to tolerate droughts, pests, diseases, low soil nutrition and to provide nutrition makes them a crop for resilience. Despite these benefits and potential, they offer, these crops remain underutilized, threatened by changing seed and food systems. Despite the production levels declining in Zambia, millets have the potential to address food and nutritional security as well as to generate incomes for rural households.

“I will talk about the crops we grow ‘sorghum and millet’, these crops are beneficial to anyone who wants to go into production as a farmer. They are beneficial in terms of overcoming malnutrition. The other reason we grow these crops is because climate change has become a very big threat; the requirement of moisture for this crop is very minimal when it comes to overcoming the impacts of climate change. I would like to encourage my fellow farmers that we should grow more of this crop; if we focus on growing this crop, we will not be talking about hunger in Zambia; we will always have food as a country. These are the crops we have been growing from time immemorial and we should not lose them.” Vister Chimuka, farmer.

Chirundu farmer, Vister Chimuka representing the farmers during the celebrations of the year the millets campaign in Lusaka.

Through our various interventions including community seed banking, seed multiplication, improving nutrition using local food plants, promotion of agroecology and participatory plant breeding; the once disappearing crops have begun to be reintroduced in the communities’ farming systems. This has also fostered the consumption of the millets in the target communities as communities see the many benefits of millets from contributing to food security, nutrition as well as climate resilience.
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