Millets and its Trade: Opportunities for India

Millets are a group of small-seeded grasses grown by humans for thousands of years. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in millet due to its health benefits and sustainability, and India has been at the forefront of this movement.

India has a long history of cultivating and consuming millets, dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. However, with the introduction of high-yield crops during the Green Revolution, the cultivation of millets declined. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the nutritional benefits of millet and its potential for sustainable farming practices. This has led to a resurgence of interest in millet in India and worldwide.

Following the successful completion of India’s request to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 2023 has designated the International Year of Millets.

With the increasing demand for millets, there is potential for India to expand its exports of these crops to other countries. India is the world’s largest producer of millet. Rajasthan accounts for 28.61 of India’s total millet production. In this blog, we will explore the millet trade opportunities for India, including the potential for increased domestic consumption and export growth.

What are Millets?

So exactly what is millet food?

Millets are a group of small-seeded grains widely grown in India, Africa, and other parts of the world. They are known for their high nutritional value, gluten-free nature, and ability to grow in low rainfall and semi-arid areas. In recent years, millets have gained popularity as a healthy and sustainable food option, and there is a growing demand for millets in both domestic and international markets.

In recent years, millets have gained attention as a health food due to their high protein, fiber, and mineral content. As a result, the demand for millet in the global market has increased, particularly in the health food and organic food sectors.

Types of Millets

There are many types of millets, but here are some of the most commonly known Millets food list:

  • Pearl Millet (Bajra)
  • Foxtail Millet (Kangni)
  • Finger Millet (Ragi)
  • Proso Millet (Barri)
  • Barnyard Millet (Jhangora)
  • Kodo Millet (Kodon)
  • Little Millet (Kutki)
  • Brown Top Millet (Hari Kangani/ Choti Kangani)
  • Sorghum Millet (Cholam)

These millets are known for their high nutritional value, gluten-free nature, and ability to grow in low rainfall and semi-arid areas. They are also used in a variety of cuisines around the world, especially in India, Africa, and China.

Each type of millet has its unique nutritional profile, taste, and culinary uses. For example, finger millet is high in calcium and iron and is often used to make porridge or flatbreads. In contrast, pearl millet is a staple grain in many parts of India used to make rotis, porridge, and other dishes.

The Largest Exporter of Millets in the World

India is the world’s largest millet producer, accounting for about 40 of the global millet production. However, despite being the largest producer, India’s share in the global millet trade is relatively small. Currently, India exports only a small amount of millet to countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, and European countries.

The major millet varieties in India include sorghum, pearl, finger, foxtail, and little millet. Millets are grown in various regions of India, with the largest producing states being Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan.

India has huge potential to expand its millet exports to meet the growing demand in the global market. According to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the global market for millets is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5 between 2018 and 2023. India can tap into this market and increase its millet exports.

Future of Millets Export from India

Due to their health benefits and sustainability, there is a growing demand for millet in international markets. Millets are also gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers in developed countries seeking alternative and healthier grains. Given the increasing demand for millet in international markets, there is a huge potential for millet exports from India.

However, certain challenges need to be addressed to take advantage of this opportunity. For example, there is a lack of awareness about millets among consumers in developed countries, and there is a need to promote millets as a healthy and sustainable food option. Additionally, there is a need to improve the quality and packaging of millet to meet international standards.

Exporting millets can be a game-changer for the Indian economy, especially for small and marginal farmers who are the primary producers of millets. By exporting millets, farmers can get better prices for their products and access international markets, increasing their income and improving their livelihoods. Additionally, millet exports can help to reduce the dependence on traditional cereal crops such as rice and wheat, which require more water and inputs.

Apart from economic benefits, millets also have several health benefits. They are high in protein, fiber, and essential minerals such as iron and calcium. Millets are also low in glycemic index, which makes them a good choice for people with diabetes or those who want to manage their blood sugar levels.


However, there are also challenges in expanding millet exports from India. One of the major challenges is the lack of awareness about millets in the global market, which can be addressed through targeted marketing and promotional efforts. Another challenge is the need for better infrastructure and storage facilities to maintain the quality of millet during transportation.

To address these challenges, the Indian government has taken various initiatives to promote millet cultivation and exports. These include the establishment of the Millets Mission to promote millet farming, launching a scheme to promote millet-based processed products, and the inclusion of millets in the public distribution system.

To Sum Up

Millets are an important crop for India and have the potential to become a major export commodity. However, concerted efforts are needed to address the challenges and tap into the growing demand for millet in the global market.

Millets have enormous potential as a healthy and sustainable food option and a source of income for small and marginal farmers in India. With the right policies and support from the government, India can become a major player in the global millet trade, which can benefit both farmers and consumers alike.