Tourism today has become highly experiential, where the uniqueness of an experience determines its appeal to tourists. While architecture and culture used to be the main focus in the past, millennials are now seeking authentic experiences in rural areas, leading to the emergence of culinary tourism as a significant feature. Rajasthan, with its diverse range of millet offerings in every region, should be promoted among tourists as a culinary destination. Additionally, incorporating millets into street food at popular tourism hotspots can further enhance the appeal. Therefore, there is a tremendous opportunity to leverage millets in the tourism industry. Furthermore, there is immense potential for startups and entrepreneurs to develop innovative recipes and products using millets, specifically targeting children aged 0-6, pregnant women, and lactating women. This was stated by Principal Secretary, Cooperative, Government of Rajasthan, Sreya Guha at the Rajasthan Millet Conclave. The day long conference was organized by FICCI in Jaipur.
The Principal Secretary further said that millets have always been an integral part of Rajasthan’s traditional diet, and the state is the leading producer of ‘bajra’. Moreover, India accounts for 20% of the global millet production and is the second largest exporter of millets. Millets require fewer resources, including water and land, making them an economically beneficial product for the country.
While setting the theme for the discussion, Chairman, FICCI Task Force on Millets & Director Seeds, South Asia, Corteva Agriscience, Jitendra Joshi said: “Rajasthan, as the largest contributor to India’s millet production, holds the key to the success of millet initiatives in the International Year of Millets 2023. Today’s Millet Conclave served as a platform for multiple stakeholders to discuss the roadmap for advancing Rajasthan’s millet value chain. This comprehensive approach will create excellent opportunities for the state’s millet industry, not just locally but nationwide. Millets have proven to be a climate-resilient crop for rainfed areas, enhancing farmers’ income and supporting sustainable agriculture while providing nutritious food for the entire nation. Furthermore, millets open doors to new economic prospects for agribusinesses.”
Earlier in the inaugural session, Joint Director, Department of Agriculture, Government of Rajasthan, Shankar Babu said that millets are much more nutritious than rice and wheat and should be brought back to the daily diets of people. He highlighted that the government also launched the Rajasthan Millet Promotion Mission in 2022-23. It has made a provision of Rs 40 crore for setting up 100 primary processing units by farmers, entrepreneurs and voluntary organisations. He said that to provide nutritious food, the state government also included millets in mid-day meals. Considering the highest production of millets in Rajasthan, a Center for Excellence for Millets is also being set up in Jodhpur with an investment of INR 5 crores. While Rajasthan is leading in production of millets, work should also be done towards boosting the processing as well as marketing of millets, he added.
Director, Agriculture & Natural Resources, PwC, Guna Nand Shukla said that in Rajasthan millets can grow easily but the farmers’ income and profit should be increased. The roadmap for this should focus on three things. Firstly, millets should become an important part of the mainstream tourism of the state, the adoption of technology to increase the shelf life of millets and the taste of millets should also be thought upon so that people and children should choose it.
While the Welcome Address was given by Chairman, FICCI Rajasthan State Council & CMD Mandawa Hotels, Randhir Vikram Singh, the Vote of Thanks during the inaugural session was proposed by Director, FICCI Rajasthan State Council, Atul Sharma.
Session on Millet Trails and Tourism: Unlocking Rajasthan’s Hidden Gems
A session focusing on exploring the potential of millets to promote sustainable and inclusive development in the tourism sector in Rajasthan was also held. It discussed the challenges and opportunities in promoting millets in the tourism sector and showcased successful examples of initiatives promoting the use of millets in the hospitality industry in Rajasthan.
During the session, Area Director of Rajasthan of IHCL and General Manager of Rambagh Palace, Ashok Rathore said that one should focusing on having their menu prepared with local produce rather than imported items. This will lead to sustainability as well as reduce the carbon footprint. For acquainting children with a taste for millets, there is a need to start from schools.
President, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Rajasthan, Kuldeep Chandela proposed that for hotels and restaurants to incorporate millets in their menu, the GST on millets should be removed.
Other sessions during the conference were themed on Building a roadmap for Rajasthan millets, Millet Trails and Tourism, Technology Linkage programme for millet farmers.