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FAO opens the International Year of Milletts, a cereal increasingly popular also in Italy

ROME, JANUARY 3 – As the global agrifood systems face challenges to feed an ever-growing global population, resilient cereals like millets provide an affordable and nutritious option, and efforts need to be scaled-up to promote their cultivation. This was the message at the opening ceremony of the International Year of Millets 2023 (IYM) at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Tuesday.

Millets encompass a diverse group of cereals including pearl, proso, foxtail, barnyard, little, kodo, browntop, finger and Guinea millets, as well as fonio, sorghum (or great millet) and teff. Deeply rooted in Indigenous Peoples’ culture and traditions, they are an important source of nourishment for millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Millet is a cereal that is becoming increasingly popular in Italian recipes. Excellent in soups or associated with other cereals, it contains proteins and is gluten-free: for this reason it is a food suitable for vegans, vegetarians and those suffering from celiac disease.

“Millets are incredible ancestral crops with high nutritional value. Millets can play an important role and contribute to our collective efforts to empower smallholder farmers, achieve sustainable development, eliminate hunger, adapt to climate change, promote biodiversity, and transform agrifood systems,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu told participants at the hybrid event.

Greater millet production can support the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and can provide decent jobs for women and youth. The revenue created can boost economic growth. With the possibility of a health cereal alternative with millets, the risks associated with production shocks can be mitigated.

The IYM 2023 and the push towards increasing millet production will contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, FAO said.

“This International Year is a timely reminder of this important crop. And it provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness of, and to direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millet consumption, the suitability of millets for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions and creating sustainable and innovative market opportunities for many countries around the work for millets to benefit farmers and consumers globally,” Director-General Qu told the audience. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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