Mysore/Mysuru: The two-day National Conference on ‘Millets for Military Ration and Specific Nutritional Requirements,’ organised by city’s Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL,) marking the International year of Millets-2023, began at SDM Institute for Management Development (SDM-IMD) on Chamundi Hill Road here this morning.
Union Minister of State for Defence and Tourism Ajay Bhatt inaugurated the conference by lighting the lamp.
Speaking on the occasion, Ajay Bhat said that the DFRL has the primary objective of providing safe and nutritious operational rations to the country’s Armed Forces. Pointing out that Research and Development efforts are focused on enhancing the quality, safety and longevity of food items, the Minister said that DFRL is an important institution in satisfying the dietary requirements of the Armed Forces.
“Considering the importance of Millets, the Armed Forces are provided with foods that have atleast 25 percent millet flour contents. The Government has sanctioned the procurement of millet flours and the inclusion of up to 25 percent of the authorised entitlement of cereals including rice and wheat flours. This move is a significant stride towards enhancing the nutritional profile of soldiers diets,” he said while stressing on the need for embracing the benefits of millets. Millet-based foods which were largely ignored earlier, can now be found in the menu of five-star hotels, which indicate the importance of millet flour foods, Ajay Bhatt added.
Padma Shri Dr. Khadar Valli Dudekula, a resident of Mysuru, who is popularly known as the Millet Man of India, said that millets are staple food for millions of people from across the globe.
Noting that millets are valued for their nutritional profile and proven health benefits, he said that millets were the major crops consumed in India five decades ago and its plate share has reduced significantly due to increased consumption of rice, wheat and sugar. However, with the increase of malnutrition problems, there is a need to move towards healthier, more accessible and cost effective diets that largely include millets, he added.
Continuing, Dr. Khadar observed that most of the modern day diseases are due to glucose imbalance. “Millets are abundant in essential amino acids, micro-nutrients and various bio-active compounds, making them an invaluable resource for combating lifestyle disorders”, he said adding that millets are also rich in fibre content. He further said that millets is an integral part of medicines used for combating life-threatening diseases such as cancer, blood pressure, diabetes etc.,
Minister Ajay Bhatt released a souvenir and ‘Bio-Degradable Water Bottle’ developed by the DFRL on the occasion and inaugurated an exhibition organised as part of the event. The expo features information pertaining to various millets grown in India, their consumption pattern, health benefits, agro-processing practices etc.,
Dr. Samir V. Kamat, Secretary DD (R&D) and Chairman DRDO, New Delhi, Dr. Upendra Kumar Singh, DS and Director General (Life Sciences), DRDO, New Delhi, Maj. Gen. S.S. Ahlawat, ADG ST(SM), Army Headquarters, New Delhi, Dr. Anil Dutt Semwal, Director, DFRL, Mysuru, Dr. D.D. Wadikar, Scientist ‘F’, Convenor and others were present.
The two-day event, in which more than 300 experts from across the country are taking part, features technical sessions, lectures and demonstrations. The event will conclude tomorrow (Sept. 30).