Millet Man and Millet Lady: India’s Treasured Guardians of the Grains

Millet Man and Millet Lady: India’s Treasured Guardians of the Grains

Discover the inspiring stories of India's Millet Man and Millet Lady, champions of ancient grains. Learn about their legacies and the rise of millet evangelists in the quest for a sustainable future.

In the heart of India, amidst the vibrant landscapes of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, two extraordinary individuals have dedicated their lives to championing millets, the ancient grains that sustain health, tradition, and the planet itself. Meet Lahari Bai, the revered “Millet Lady of India,” and P.V. Satheesh, fondly remembered as the “Millet Man.” Their stories, intertwined with passion, dedication, and a vision for a sustainable future, inspire generations and shape the landscape of Indian agriculture.

The Legacy of Lahari Bai: The Millet Woman of India

Lahari Bai, a 27-year-old woman from the Baiga tribe in Dindori, Madhya Pradesh, emerges as a beacon of hope for preserving indigenous crops and traditional knowledge. For over a decade, Lahari Bai has tirelessly worked to safeguard her people’s millet varieties, known as ‘Shree Anna,’ from the brink of extinction.

Nestled in the quaint village of Silpidi, Lahari Bai manages a humble seed bank and a “doomsday vault” within the confines of her home. Here, she meticulously collects and nurtures dozens of millet varieties, including sorghum (jowar), little millet (kutki), foxtail millet (kangni), pearl millet (bajra), and finger millet, among others.

Lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her unwavering commitment to preserving coarse cereals, Lahari Bai distributes seeds from her bank to farmers across 25 villages. Her efforts not only ensure biodiversity but also empower local communities to reclaim their agricultural heritage.

P.V. Satheesh: The Millet Man’s Enduring Legacy

P.V. Satheesh, revered as the “Millet Man” of India, stands as a towering figure in the realm of sustainable agriculture. As the founder and executive director of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), Satheesh dedicated his life to promoting millet cultivation and organic agriculture in southern India.

His visionary work encompassed empowering women farmers through village-level associations, facilitating agricultural autonomy, and advocating for biodiversity conservation. Satheesh’s relentless advocacy culminated in the declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations General Assembly, a testament to his global impact.

Dr. Khader Vali: The Millet Man of India’s Nutritional Crusade

Dr. Khader Vali, known as the “Millet Man of India,” embodies the nexus between nutrition, health, and sustainability. Hailing from Mysore, Dr. Vali advocates for millets as a potent weapon against lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

His pioneering research underscores the nutritional superiority of millets, emphasizing their role in disease prevention and environmental conservation. Recognized with the prestigious Padma Shri in 2023, Dr. Vali’s advocacy heralds a paradigm shift in India’s dietary landscape.

Echoes of Inspiration: The Rise of Millet Evangelists

Building upon the legacies of Lahari Bai and P.V. Satheesh, a new wave of millet evangelists emerges, amplifying their impact and vision.

Sharmila Oswal: The Millet Woman of India

Renowned as the “Millet Mom” and “Milletpreneur,” Sharmila Oswal epitomizes innovation and collaboration in the millet movement. Her brainchild, the Millet Association of India (MAOI), serves as a crucible of change, uniting farmers, scientists, and food enthusiasts in the quest for millet revival. Under her stewardship, MAOI catalyzes the cultivation of drought-resistant millets, fostering sustainability and resilience in Indian agriculture.

Raimati Ghiuria: The Queen of Millets

Hailing from the verdant village of Koraput in Odisha, Raimati Ghiuria reigns as the “Queen of Millets.” With unwavering dedication, she preserves 30 rare millet varieties, imparting her wisdom to countless women across her community. Recognized as the “Millet Monarch,” Raimati Ghiuria’s journey epitomizes the transformative power of grassroots activism and traditional wisdom.

Embracing the Millet Revolution: A Call to Action

As the sun sets on the horizon, the legacy of Lahari Bai, P.V. Satheesh, and their contemporaries illuminates a path towards a healthier, more sustainable future. Through collective action and unwavering commitment, we can harness the nutritional prowess and ecological resilience of millets to nourish both body and planet.

Let us heed the call of the millet man and millet lady, cultivating a future where tradition thrives, health flourishes, and sustainability reigns supreme.

In the tapestry of India’s agricultural heritage, millets weave a narrative of resilience, vitality, and hope. Let us embrace their bounty and sow the seeds of transformation for generations to come.

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