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2023 – UN International Year of Millets

The United Nations (UN) has declared 2023 the International Year of Millets to raise awareness of the crop's climate-resilience and nutritional benefits.

Elderly dark-skinned woman with bright red headscarf cutting a millet plant and a sickle.

Millets are a “super grain.” They grow easier and with fewer resources than other grains, and contain more protein, fiber, and vitamins than wheat or rice.


The United Nations has declared 2023 the International Year of Millets (IYM) to help unleash the potential of a powerful crop that promises to help in battling world hunger and climate change. To achieve this, the United Nations adopted its resolution A/RES/75/263 on March 3, 2021.

What Are Millets?

Millets are a group of grasses grown as grain crops, such as finger millet (eleusine coracana) and pearl millet (pennisetum glaucum). Millets are grown in more than 130 countries, mainly in Asia and Africa; the main producers are India, Nigeria, and China.

Easy Growing, Cheap, and Effective

Millets need less water than other grains and grow without regular irrigation, even in droughts. They grow in poor soils with little to no additional work. This makes millets cheap and easy to plant, grow, and harvest—especially in dry areas where people traditionally struggle to grow crops.

Excellent Gluten-Free Nutrition

Easy and widespread growing is not the only reason why millets are a “super crop:” They also contain more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than wheat and rice. Additionally, millets are rich in calcium and magnesium.

They can feed people without creating a nutritional deficiency and can also help fight health challenges such as obesity and diabetes, as they are gluten-free and have less effect on blood glucose levels.

Dried millet grains in a wooden spoon

Millets can help fight climate change effects by making food production more resilient in many African and Asian countries.

© iStockphoto.com/bhofack2

Self-Sufficiency In a Changing Climate

The UN International Year of Millets (IYM) is an opportunity to “raise awareness of and direct policy attention to the nutritional and health benefits of millets and their suitability for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions,” according to the UN. The UN also aims to promote “the sustainable production of millets while highlighting their potential to provide new sustainable market opportunities for producers and consumers.”

IYM Key Messages

  1. The sustainable cultivation of millets can support climate-resilient agriculture.
  2. The sustainable production of millets can fight hunger and contribute to food security and nutrition.
  3. Millets can be an important part of a healthy diet.
  4. Greater consumption of millets can offer opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods.
  5. Proper handling is key to maintaining high quality and nutritional benefits.
  6. Greater trade in millets can improve the diversity of the global food system.

Topics: UN Year