Sangareddy: Stating that “Millet rights are womens’ rights,” the AIMS (All India Millet Sisters) opened a new chapter in the discourse on women’s rights in a Millet Charter-2020 released at the end of their three-day conference of the All India Millet Sisters (AIMS).
The three-day AIMS meet was hosted by the Deccan Development Society’s premises at Pasthapur near Zaheerabad in Sangareddy district from January 27 to 29.
They explained that All India Millets represented the closest expression of women’s rights in food and farming since they embodied all the politics and concerns of global women’s movements. Referring to the rethinking in the agricultural strategy forced by the coming decades of the climate crisis, the Millet sisters noted that with every decade of deepening climate crisis familiar grains such as wheat and rice would continue to disappear from food basket of the country and there would be nothing to offer in the food system. Millets with their extraordinary capacity to withstand the climate change pressure may be the only grains that can be tapped for public food systems. Therefore there is an immediate need to recognise Millets as Foods of Future for India and all food planning must be based on millets.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s recognition of Millets as Treasure of nutrition and commending for a call to start a millet revolution in India, the Millet sisters demanded that these thoughts could be translated into action only if State policies such as Kisan Samman Yojana focus on millets. While the other farmers would get Rs 6000/- per year under Kissan Samman Yojana, millet farmers should get Rs 10,000/ acre per year if the PM’s noble thoughts were to translate into noble action. In the context of India’s miserable standing of 185th position in the malnourished nations in the world, the AIMS demanded the transition of the nomenclature course cereals into nutritional cereals.
The argument that Millet’s rights are Women’s rights flows from the guidelines of the International Committee on Food security, the millet charter stated. Noting that the guidelines had identified food supply chains that determine the availability of safe and nutritious food, actions to be taken to ensure the accessibility of sustainable healthy diets, the notion that people are central to nutritional knowledge and education and women’s empowerment in food systems.
The millet sisters also noted with concern that in the current atmosphere of millet mania the essential soul of millet farming namely biodiversity had become the first victim. In view of this, they strongly reaffirm that biodiversity was the soul of millet farming and hence it should be treated as the first principle.
In view of this fact, the charter said, that women farmers were the true preservers of authentic biodiverse millet farming. All the agricultural finance institutions must move away from their tradition of preferring non-food crops such as cotton and heavily irrigation dependent crops such as rice, and sugarcane. In preference over millets, they should accord higher preference to millet crops in the light of the new evidence starting with climate change.
The Millet sisters vowed to take up an all India campaign for the implementation of the promise of putting millets in the Public Distribution System, a promise that was enshrined in the Food Security Act of India passed by parliament in 2013.