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ASEAN-India Millet Festival 2023 kickstarts at Kota Kasablanka Mall, Indonesia

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, NOV 22, 2023: THE Indian Mission to ASEAN in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare is organizing the ASEAN-India Millet Festival 2023, in Indonesia from 22nd November to 26th November 2023. The inaugural session of the festival took place in the Kota Kasablanka Mall, a prominent shopping destination in South Jakarta, Indonesia. A Millet-centric exhibition is being held as part of the festival featuring participation from Millet-based FPOs, start-ups and Indian chefs.

Aligned with the International Year of Millets (IYM) celebrations, an aim of this festival is to raise awareness and create a market for millets and millets-based products among the ASEAN Member states i.e. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. During the festival, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare is leading a delegation from India, representing a diverse set of professionals engaged in the Indian millet ecosystem, including chefs, start-ups, representatives from Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), industry leaders, state officials and more.

Additional Secretary at DA&FW and Head of the Indian Delegation Dr. Maninder Kaur Dwivedi provided valuable insights into millet cultivation, processing and the business potential of these ancient grains. Joint Secretary (Crops) at DA&FW Ms. Shubha Thakur showcased India's leading role in celebrating the International Year of Millets 2023 and Indian government's initiatives to encourage adoption of millets through a captivating video, setting the stage for insightful panel discussions. Additionally, Deputy Head of BPN Dr.Andriko Noto Susanto further highlighted the remarkable prospects of millets cultivation and its role in diversifying the South Asian food basket.

The exhibition, scheduled from November 22nd to 26th, aims to foster collaboration between ASEAN countries, celebrate cultural and culinary diversity and promote sustainable millet practices for a healthier future.The exhibition will also feature five Indian FPOs, namely Citi Block FPC, Jewargi Taluka Millets FPC, Bhumitrajalalpur, Vaam Agro, and Lambasingi Tribal Products FPC, and two start-ups namely Taru Naturals and Sattva Millets and Food Products (Mibbles) exhibiting unique millet-added products such as millet cookies, namkeen, khakhra, cakes, and more.

A major highlight of the event will be the live cooking workshop from November 23 rd to 26 th, where celebrity chefs from India and Indonesia will showcase the culinary potential of millets, presenting dishes like Foxtail Millet Tabouleh, Mixed Millet Mathri Canopies, Millet Risotto, Millet Curd Rice, Ragi brownie and cookies each day. Chefs Vinesh Johny, Risma Widyastuti, Anahita Dhondy, Sabyasachi Gorai, and Ambika Johar will captivate the audience with a new dish daily during this period.

The five-day festival will contribute towards raising awareness about millets. It is also a step towards implementation of the ASEAN-India Joint Leaders' Statement on Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Response to Crises adopted at the 20 th ASEAN-India Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on 07 th September 2023.

In his welcome remarks, Ambassador of India to ASEAN Mr. Jayant Khobragade highlighted the crucial role of millets in addressing global hunger and nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, Head of the National Food Agency (Badan Pangan Nasional (BPN)) Indonesia Mr. Arief Prasetyo Adi underscored millets as a farmer-friendly and sustainable food choice for the future in the face of climate change.

The first panel discussion, titled 'ASEAN-India Collaboration in Millets,' moderated by Additional Chief Secretary & Agriculture Production Commissioner, Govt. of Assam Mr. Ashish Kumar Bhutani featured discussions among experts from diverse ASEAN nations on initiatives aimed at mainstreaming millets as part of IYM 2023. The esteemed list of panellists included Ms. Vilayphone Sourideth, Head of the Research Laboratory Group at the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, MAF, Lao; Ms. Raweewan Chuekittisak an expert in Action in Field Crops from the Department of Agriculture, Thailand; Mr. Rony Megawanto from the KEHATI Foundation, Indonesia and Dr. Pham Quang Minh, Assistant Director, Sectoral Development Directorate and Head of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division, ASEAN Economic Community Department, ASEAN Secretariat. The topics explored during the insightful panel conversation encompassed knowledge transfer, seed exchange, market expansion and collaborative efforts in training farmers and chefs for millet cultivation and consumption.

Another engaging panel featuring Mr. Sudhansu, Secretary, APEDA, Mr. Rajendra Aryal, UN's FAO Representative to Indonesia and Timor Leste, Mr. Sachin Sharma, ITC,Mr. Rony Megawanto, KEHATI Foundation, Indonesia and Mr. Herry Kristanto, CEO, Advanta Seeds, which was moderated by Dr. C Tara Satyavathi, Director, ICAR-IIMR highlighted the inherent climate-resilient qualities of millets, benefits for small farmers, initiatives combating climate change through millet cultivation, strategies for promoting and cultivating millets.

The day concluded with a delectable Asian-themed millet-based luncheon, showcasing the versatility and nutritional value of millets.


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