​Increasing millet production in South Asia

The challenge

Despite their nutritional benefits, tolerance for difficult growing conditions, and ease of storage, small millets have consistently been neglected by agricultural policy in South Asia, which has put the emphasis on cash crops and cereals like rice and wheat.

Minor millets have consistently been an important and nutritious part of the diets of small-scale farmers and indigenous groups in the area. Research is needed to help revitalize the development of improved millet species among small-scale farmers and indigenous groups in South Asia.

The research

This project, supported by IDRC and GAC through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), aims to increase production and consumption of minor millets, pulses, and oil seeds in eight regions in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

To help reintroduce millets to regions where they were once more popular, researchers will work with local producers to test and validate a variety of agricultural management practices. They will then develop sustainable agriculture tool kits to help farmers to increase millet production in these countries. Researchers will also develop technologies that will reduce the drudgery of post-harvest millet processing for the women who usually perform this task.

Expected outcomes

  • Increased production and consumption of nutritious minor millets and pulses
  • Conservation of threatened millet varieties and development of a breeding program
  • Development of tool kits on sustainable agricultural practices
  • Improved post-harvest technologies to make millet processing easier for women
  • Improved efficiency of millet de-hulling technology

Lead researchers

Dr. M. KarthikeyanDevelopment of Humane Action Foundation, India
Kamal KhadkaLocal Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development, Nepal
Dr. Widanelage Sathis Pemruwan de Mel, Arthacharya Foundation, Sri Lanka
Dr. Kirit PatelCanadian Mennonite University, Canada

For more information on this project, contact Sara Ahmed, Senior Program Specialist, New Delhi, India (sahmed@idrc.ca) or Annie Wesley, Senior Program Specialist, Ottawa, Canada

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

End Date

Monday, September 1, 2014


42 months

IDRC Officer

Sara Ahmed

Total funding

CA$ 3,500,000


India, Nepal, Sri Lanka

Project Leader

Kamal Khadka


Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development

Institution Website


Project Leader

Dr. Kirit Patel


Canadian Mennonite University

Institution Website


Project Leader

Widanelage Sathis Pemruwan De Mel


Arthacharya Foundation

Institution Website


Project Leader

Dr. Muniappan Karthikeyan


DHAN (Development of Humane Action) Foundation

Institution Website