• High Commissioner Namgya Khampa in an interview said India sees millets as an important contributor to food security and nutritious food basket.
• And as the largest producer of millets, they would like to shine a spotlight on how the produce can produce to global food security and nutritious food basket.
India to Kenya will partner with national and county governments to promote research and growing of millets to achieve food security.
Indian High Commissioner Namgya Khampa said her government sees millets as an important contributor to the food security and nutrition. And as the largest producer of millets, they would like to shine a spotlight on how the produce can contribute to global food security and nutritious food basket.
“Millets do not require too much water to grow as well as chemicals and fertilisers. Therefore, they can be very useful in contributing to food security in countries where water is scarce and we know Kenya is going through a period of drought,” Khampa said at the High Commission in Nairobi.
“Expanding millets production can, therefore, address some of these challenges that governments, consumers and farmers face, as well as mitigating the adverse effects of climate change."
She said the government of India will scale up partnerships that revolve around millets across the world, and in regards to Kenya, it will help in millets production, transfer of technology, of seeds and through capacity building programmes.
“We see opportunities in engaging the government of Kenya as well as the counties in specific aspects of agriculture, including millets," Khampa said.
"For instance, capacity building is an area that comes to mind, where we can assist counties especially those that grow millets to impart some of the lessons and experiences from India either through visits to India, virtually or sending experts here."
According to the International Rescue Committee, about 5.4 million people are projected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between March and June this year, of which 1.2 million people will likely be in the emergency phase. This translates to a 43 per cent increase of people facing high levels of food insecurity compared to the same period last year.
Senator Kennedy Mong'are of Nyamira county, which grows millet, said that the national government through the Ministry of Agriculture and the counties must consider promoting growing of millets.
“There are many counties that have sufficient land required to grow millet in Marsabit, the lowlands of counties in Nyanza, Western and Eastern. And the growing of millet does not require much. No fertiliser and much rainfall. This is an idea whose time has come,” he said.
Senator Mong'are further opined that there is need for joint effort to push for diversification from maize, which has traditionally been the staple food.
He said lack of advocacy is to blame for the lack of this diversity.
“If you look at the old government system, we used to have extension agricultural officers who have since diminished. These are experts who would be guiding and advising farmers,” the senator said.
"We should have advocacy on social and mainstream media, through governments and elected leaders talking to their people. With that, we will create awareness about millets as a staple food and supplement maize."
Kenya Association of Manufacturers chairman Rajan Shah said there is a huge gap between the farmers, the agro-processers and the market, a challenge they are working on.
Climate-resilient food has been found to withstand harsh conditions, thereby helping to ensure food and nutrition security.
Drought resistant crops include green grams, sorghum, millets, pigeon peas, cowpeas and groundnuts.
On Saturday, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Global Millet (Shree Anna) Conference in New Delhi.
The High Commission in Nairobi streamed the event for about 60 representatives from Indian community organisations, millet and agri- based businesses and professionals.
The conference in New Delhi was attended by agriculture ministers from various countries, international organisations, businesses, researchers, farmers and other stakeholders dealing with millets.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted the climate resilience of millets, saying they have a huge capacity to contribute towards safeguarding the health of both humans and the soil.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets on March 5, 2021 on India's proposal, which was backed by 72 countries including Kenya.
The India High Commission said the year is being observed to enhance awareness of millets for food security and nutrition, enhance investment in research and development.