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India has asked the United Nations to declare 2018 as the International Year of Millets and promote it as nutrition-rich smart food across the world.

A letter in this regard has been written to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.

In the letter, Singh said there is a need to promote millets as the "awareness is low" among consumers, policy makers, industry and R&D sector.Sorghum, Bajra and Ragi are some popular millets in India.

"Promotion of production and consumption of millets through conscious efforts at global level is likely to contribute substantially in the fight against the targeted hunger and mitigate the effects of climate change in the long run," he said.

The yield of millets can be increased three times and they have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, biofuels and brewing.

Therefore, millets are smart food and good for consumers, farmers and the planet, he added"Considering the importance of millets ...the Government of India along with other country governments urges the UN to declare 2018 as the International Year of Millets," Singh said.

This will go a long way in popularising millets which would benefit future generation of farmers as well as consumers, he added.

Singh said millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher level of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fibre and minerals.