Millets are not only recognised as important for food security because of their nutritional value but also for their resilience and adaptability to diverse environmental conditions, which is highly valuable given the global climate crisis. For many communities across the globe, millet is deeply rooted in their cultural traditions and customs, and its cultivation is seen as significant for the preservation of indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage.

Following the United Nations declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM2023), the University of Reading has been raising awareness about the importance of millet for health and food security. The University of Reading has, in the last few months, achieved significant policy impact through its outreach and advocacy efforts towards promoting millet production. In May 2023, the University of Reading co-hosted a symposium with the Himalayan University Consortium in Kathmandu. Dr Grady Walker, Global Development Research Division, University of Reading, co-convened the event. The consortium brought together delegates from four countries, including academics and policymakers, and, with support from the University of Reading’s rapid response policy engagement fund, led to the production of three policy briefs on millets for Nepal, North-East India, and Bhutan. These policy briefs provide policy recommendations based on respective national and sub-national contexts to address barriers hindering the revival and integration of millets within the Himalayan food systems.

The University of Reading was delighted to witness the recent launch of the policy brief for Northeast India, which occurred during a dedicated event for the inauguration of the Millets Festival in Nagaland, India, in December 2023. The event was hosted by the Chief Minister of Nagaland, Shri. Neiphiu Rio, and attended by many high-ranking officials of the Government of Nagaland and representatives of the State Department of Agriculture. In his tweet, the Chief Minister of Nagaland noted that the event was in line with efforts to position India as a global millet hub. The University of Reading is pleased to see the policy impact of its work and will continue to play a pivotal role in raising political awareness about the multifaceted benefits of millets and amplify advocacy efforts on a larger scale.