Varanasi (UP), 25th March 2023: The UN FAO has marked the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. This has happened on India’s request. By advocating millets on international platforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered a road map for tackling food security conundrum on a large scale. The proposed solution is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Keeping the millet mission as a mission statement, the Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF), the philanthropic arm of Vedanta, recently launched a millet nutri-bar distribution initiative. The unique drive was rolled-out in the presence of Ms. Anandiben Patel Governor of Uttar Pradesh and Ms. Priya Agarwal Hebbar, Chairperson of Hindustan Zinc Ltd & Non-Executive Director, Vedanta Ltd in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
The one-of-its-kind initiative to make India healthy and nutritious by AAF has been launched coordinated with the government’s commitment to promoting the production and consumption of millet in the country. Based on the proposal made by the government of India, 2023 has also been declared at the International Year of Millets (IYM) 2023 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Underlining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to promote millet in the daily diet for the citizens’ healthy growth, Ms Patel lauded the efforts of the AAP to distribute millet Nutri-bar across the Anganwadi. She added, “such initiatives will not only address the importance of millet but also help to cure several malnutrition-related diseases, thus creating a positive impact on the community. It is good to see cause-oriented organizations such as Vedanta and Anil Agarwal Foundation aid holistic nourishment of children by including millets.”
Under this initiative, the AAF would distribute nutri-bars to almost 50,000 children daily across 1400 Anganwadi centers including Nand Ghars. In the initial phase, the foundation will focus on three blocks of Varanasi- Sewapuri, Arajiline, and Kashi Vidyapith.
The foundation produced the nutri-bar in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Millet Research (Nutri-hub, IIMR (Indian Institute of Millet Research)) through Troo Good in line with the government’s initiative to promote millet in the daily diet across the country. It is designed on a 6x6x6 model i.e., to deliver multi-millet bars packed with 6 powerpack ingredients for 6 days a week for 6 months to the children attending the aanganwadis centres in the three specified blocks.
Speaking on the launch of the nutri-bar, Ms Priya Agarwal Hebbar, Chairperson of Hindustan Zinc Ltd & Non-Executive Director, Vedanta Ltd said that through this unique initiative, the foundation aims to address the nutritional concerns amongst the children, especially in the rural parts of India.
She further said, “These protein-dense millet bars are thoughtfully curated for children keeping in mind their nutritional needs, palate, and preferences. We are thankful to IIMR and Govt of Uttar Pradesh for helping us commence this initiative as a small step towards creating a national movement.”
Rich in dietary fiber-soluble and insoluble millets are great food for gut and digestive health. It is also loaded with protein, key vitamins, and minerals, which is a healthy food choice. Given that India is the largest producer of millet in the world, the grain crop is easily available in the country at an affordable price.
Dr B. Dayakar Rao, Principal Scientist, Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) referred to millet as an “important solution in the collective march towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” He also expressed happiness about collaborating with the AAF for the unique initiative and added that “Millet as a Smart Food, must be introduced to the rural landscape about its nutritional value and health benefits, including information on calorific content.”
Talking about the benefits of the nutrient-dense millets, Mr Raju Bhupati, Founder and CEO of Troo Good said, “This initiative will help nourish and build a strong, healthy, capable, and competent next generation for the country.”
The pilot intervention by the AAF is expected to have a significant impact on the nutritional status of the children in the district of Varanasi. The initiative will scale up to other states gradually.