North East connects millet sisters from India

Millets, the miracle grains from the Southern drylands, Western and Eastern plains, North Eastern and Northern uplands of India connected the farmers, scientists, activists, media persons and researchers from different states of India during the 1st annual convention of All India Millet Sisters (AIMS) Network.

This convention was organised by Millet Network of India in collaboration with North East Network and ICAR-NEH, Meghalaya at Umiam premises of ICAR-NEH, Shillong, Meghalaya from May 23-24, 2018 to address the Current Concerns, Challenges & Some Silver Linings of Millets. The logo of the AIMS Network was jointly unfurled by the women farmers of 12 states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, & West Bengal.

During this convention 16 women millet farmers were felicitated by eminent women leaders, journalists and activists from different parts of India. After 2 days of intensive deliberations on the multi-dimensional understanding of millets from the experiences of millet producing farmers, agro-scientists, millet marketing agencies, women’s collectives, and state functionaries engaged in millet promotion, convergence of some ideas emerged.

The deliberations were steered by NGO leaders, experienced farmers and community activists along with the field scientists from ICAR-NEH, and few government functionaries. The interactive interface between farmers on the ground, policy framers and field scientists was effectively engaging. At the end of the 2 day convention, a declaration was collectively charted out to ensure that the demands of the women farmers specifically engaged in the millet based eco-system is taken into necessary action by the concerned stakeholders.   

 The millet sisters, civil society groups, scientists, activists and environmentalists from 12 states — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, & West Bengal have resolved on the Umiam Declaration of Millet Sisters.

Their demands include acknowledging that millets are heritage crops, multifaceted in their extraordinary food value, and in providing nutrition, fodder, livelihood and ecological security in these climate-stressed times, the government should support the millet-based biodiverse agriculture practised by milllions of small women farmers who are custodians of India’s rich lore of millet farming practices. Given the shocking burden of malnutrition among children in India, which is the highest in the world, the government should give primacy to the use of millets in the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)and Mid-Day-Meal Scheme. This would ensure a healthy new generation. Millets should find a definite place in its Public Distribution System (PDS) so that India can escape the ignominous place among the malnutrition countries in the world.

Teresa Rehman

Teresa Rehman

Teresa Rehman is an award-winning journalist based in Northeast India. She had worked with India Today magazine, The Telegraph and Tehelka. She is now the Managing Editor of The Thumb Print. She has been awarded the WASH Media Awards 2009-2010. She had recieved the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for two consecutive years (2008-09 and 2009-10) for the category 'Reporting on J&K and the Northeast (Print). She received the Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2011, Sanskriti Award 2009 for Excellence in Journalism and the Seventh Sarojini Naidu Prize 2007 for Best Reporting on Panchayati Raj by The Hunger Project. She was also featured in the Power List of Femina magazine in 2012. Her debut book is 'The Mothers of Manipur' (Zubaan Books).