New Delhi: The Indian Army is reintroducing three Indian millets in the soldiers’ ration after a gap of over 55 years, the force said in a release on Wednesday. The three millet varieties that will be reintroduced in the soldiers’ diet are jowar, bajra, and ragi, which were a part of the Army’s ration until 1966.
Millets were discontinued after India became self-sufficient in producing wheat and rice to feed the entire population.
According to the release, the Army has sought sanction from the government to procure millet flour not exceeding 25 per cent of the authorized entitlement of cereals (rice and wheat flour), which is 620 grams a day, in rations for troops from the year 2023-24 onwards. It said procurement of the millet varieties and issue will be based on options exercised by the troops and quantity demanded.
It also said the Army has issued advisories for millets to be extensively used in organized functions, barakhanas (unit/regimental feasts), canteens, and in home cooking. For this, the force is training its cooks to prepare wholesome, tasty, and nutritious millet dishes, it said.
Additionally, the Army is putting special emphasis on introducing value-added millet items and snacks to troops deployed along the northern borders.
Currently, the Army said, millet foods are being introduced through CSD outlets and dedicated corners are being set up in shopping complexes in military stations and cantonments. Apart from these initiatives, “Know Your Millet” awareness campaigns are also being conducted in educational institutions in the Army-run areas.
Millets are a good source of proteins, micro-nutrients, and phytochemicals, which will boost the nutritional profile of a soldier's diet.
The Army said, “Traditional millet foods with proven health benefits and suited to our geographical and climatic conditions would be a vital step in mitigating lifestyle diseases and enhancing satisfaction and morale of the troops. Millets would now form an integral part of the daily meal for all ranks.”
It may be noted that the United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. India, which has traditionally been the largest producer and consumer of this easy-to-grow, monsoon-independent, nutritious, and tasty foodgrain, is enthusiastically promoting millet consumption in the country. The Army’s move towards reintroducing the three popular millet varieties is also a step towards the direction.