Reviving the Magic of Millets for ‘SuPoshan’ in the Modern Era

March 2, 2021   | author: Kavita Sardana - Advisor, Health & Nutrition Adani Foundation

Adani Foundation is dedicated to curb malnutrition and anaemia in practical ways by bringing about a behavior change and a sense of responsibility within community members. In association with Adani Wilmar, the Foundation has generated the desired impact in many communities and will continue to do so in the interest of a healthy, growing nation.

The Miracles of Millets

The term ‘millet’ is widely used to refer to a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food. These grains are popular for their culinary uses as well as health-promoting qualities. The health and nutritive benefits associated with millets are crucial to tackling problems like anaemia, diabetes and several other degenerative diseases, apart from malnutrition. Some of the Major Millets include – Sorghum (Jowar), Pearl Millet (Bajra), Finger Millet (Ragi); Minor Millets include – Foxtail Millet (Kangani/Kakum), Proso Millet (Chena), Kodo Millet (Kodo), Barnyard Millet (Sawa/Sanwa), Little Millet (Kutki); and two Pseudo Millets are Buck-wheat (Kuttu) and Amaranth (Rajgira/Chola).

Millets are a group of gluten-free grains that are highly nutritious and rich in protein, minerals, vitamins and fibre as compared to corn, rice and wheat. Millets hold great potential in contributing substantially to food and nutritional security of the country and thus they are not only a powerhouse of nutrients, but also climate-resilient crops. They are less prone to spoilage and have a longer shelf life.

Health benefits of millets

Millets contain a host of micronutrients such as iron, calcium and phosphorus. Also, they take time to digest, which don’t cause the blood sugar spike associated with easily digestible food. Introducing millet into your diet can help you control diabetes for the same reason. Millets are not only good for us but the environment too, as they are largely rain-fed crops and do not put pressure on our already diminishing water resources. Additionally, these grain crops do not attract pests and so, can grow perfectly well without the use of pesticides.

Millet benefits our bodies by strengthening our immunity, keeping diseases in check.  It is being hailed as a superfood, even called as a miraculous food product. Unlike other cereals, millets take longer to break down in the body and so, keep us satiated for longer. Enriched with the goodness of nature, millets are a rich source of minerals like magnesium, zinc and potassium. Each type of millet carries its own health benefits but largely, all millet types promote good health and wellness as they are anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hypertensive.

SuPoshan Program

Acknowledging the above facts, in the SuPoshan program; a nutrition intervention project by Adani Wilmar Ltd., implemented by Adani Foundation, did an availability, accessibility and consumption survey during POSHAN Maah 2020. It was observed that there was gap in the consumption despite their easy availability, so, efforts were taken up to promote the incorporation of these super grains in the daily diet. Awareness drives were carried out through SuPoshan Sanginis to re-introduce these grains, which have been neglected over the years.

The concept of POSHTIK THALI comprising of millet dishes along with vegetables, pulses, fruits, dairy products was creatively carried out by SuPoshan Sanginis within their community ensuring that each household is involved in order to improve their nutritional status. Since there were restrictions due to COVID, SuPoshan Sanginis prepared colorful charts; posters as well as planned recipes with locally available millets and shared them with the beneficiaries at their village level. SuPoshan Sanginis were trained to ensure that pregnant and lactating women along with SAM children were consuming millets in the right form and quantity. Since millets are a powerhouse of nutrients and help control malnutrition, recipes such as ragi sheera, sama khichdi, ragi coconut ladoo, Jowari Rotla, bajra vadi, methi thalipeeth, bajra vegetable uttapa, little millet upma, jowari popcorn, multi millet paranthas, ragi dosa, chilla and many more were shared with the families by the SuPoshan Sanginis. SuPoshan Sanginis were also advised to prepare millets in the form of porridge for growing kids.

Special activities during POSHAN Maah 2020

There could not be an occasion better than the Poshan Maah to revitalize and revive our most traditional food grains, also called the miracle grains of the ancestors – millets or the Nutri-cereals, pseudocereals.

Through knowledge sharing and informative events, an effort was made to encourage the daily intake of millets to get the benefits in terms of their high protein, fiber and mineral content. All cooked dishes were shared within the community families. The prime focus was to encourage the cooking of millets in various ways and make it apt for children, adolescent girls as well as the whole family.

Adani Foundation’s SuPoshan Sanginis showcased their creative talent by displaying beautiful Rangolis at their households and empowering the community to understand the importance of consuming local seasonal foods– including vegetables, millets, pulses, fruits, seeds and nuts– with the right combinations and cooked in the right way. The SuPoshan Sanginis did a commendable job in tele counseling community members to ensure that the target group is meeting their daily nutritional requirements.

Webinars were also organized at various sites with experts sharing knowledge on meeting the challenges of mitigating malnutrition, millets, immunity building foods and herbs, SAM childcare, adolescent health, anemia prevention and much more, such as, Adani Foundation hosted a talk show with Dr. Khadar Vali on the consumption of millets in daily diet towards a maintaining a healthy nutritional status, which witnessed huge participation.

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