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Ambassador’s Remarks at the University of Antananarivo on the occasion of International Year of Millets, 26 July 2023

Posted on: July 28, 2023 | Back | Print

Ambassador’s Remarks at the University of Antananarivo on the occasion of International Year of Millets, 26 July 2023

Professor Haja Rakotomanana, Vice President of the University of Antananarivo

Deputy Representative of FAO in Madagascar, 

Director of the Agronomy Department of the University of Antananarivo,

Dear Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Namaste and Good Afternoon! It is my great pleasure to take part in the celebrations of the International Year of Millets at the University of Antananarivo, a leading institution of higher education and research in Madagascar. I would like to thank the Vice President of the University and the Agronomy Department for organizing today’s celebrations.

As you know, millets have long been a staple food for millions of people across Asia and Africa. You might also be aware that the people of India have been cultivating millets for more than 5000 years and India is now the world's largest producer of millets and also its second largest exporter. 

Millets are rich in protein, fibers and micro-nutrients and have a low glycemic index. They are resistant to various crop diseases and can grow in harsh climatic conditions. India spearheaded the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution which declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets, in line with the ancient Indian philosophy "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" (the whole world as one family) and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of LIFE (Life Style for Environment).

In the current context of Climate Change, Conflict in Ukraine and Covid-19, the relevance of millets is growing for food and nutritional security in the developing countries. As a responsible member of the Global South, India is at the forefront of the global campaign to promote millets. We organized the Global Millets Conference in New Delhi in March 2023 and Indian Embassies across the world are undertaking various events to mark the International Year of Millets. The Indian Institute of Millets Research has been established as a "Global Centre of Excellence" to engage in basic and strategic research on millets and to support more than 500 Indian Start-ups involved in millets trade. Next month, India and Kenya are joining hands to organize a high level India-Africa Millets Conference in Nairobi to enhance awareness on millets and to facilitate knowledge sharing among various stakeholders in India and Africa. 

Like Madagascar, India is an agrarian nation with about 55% of the population depending on Agriculture for their livelihood. India is among the world’s largest producers and exporters of millets, rice, wheat, sugar, milk, cotton, spices, fruits and vegetables etc. Over the past 76 years of its Independence, India has made a remarkable progress in various fields. Today, India is the world’s 5th largest economy and the fastest growing major economy. It is home to the world’s third largest Start-up ecosystem. You might be aware that during the Covid-19 pandemic, India had not only administered 2.2 bn doses of “Made in India” vaccines to its nationals but also exported about 300 mn doses to more than 100 countries across the world. 

In conclusion, I would like to highlight that India and Madagascar are bound by ancient historical and cultural linkages. The people of Indian origin have been living and contributing to the economy of Madagascar for centuries. As a close neighbour and a fellow democracy in the Indian Ocean region, India has been sharing its developmental experience and expertise as per the needs and requirements of Madagascar. Till date, about 900 officials and more than 100 students from Madagascar have undergone higher education and professional training in India. The Government of India is also offering scholarships for online education in premier Indian universities for the students of Madagascar. I would like to encourage the students of University of Antananarivo to consider India as a higher education destination. The Embassy will extend all necessary assistance to the interested students in this regard. Once again, I thank the University of Antananarivo for organizing today’s celebrations of International Year of Millets. Thank you!