Monday, March 18, 2024

Unlocking the Nutritional Power of Millets: Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Innovation

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the nutritional benefits of millets, often hailed as the "smart food" of the future. However, despite their immense potential, millets present unique challenges when it comes to processing and consumption. In this blog post, we'll delve into the technology, innovations, and strategies aimed at harnessing the nutritional power of millets while overcoming the hurdles that stand in the way.

  1. The Challenge of Husk Removal: Unlike rice and wheat, millets come with an outer husk that poses a challenge during processing. Dehusking millets is crucial, as the husk is indigestible and can cause digestive issues if consumed. However, differentiating between husked and dehusked millets, especially in varieties like foxtail millet, can be difficult due to their similar appearance.
  2. Regional Variations in Processing: In regions like Maharashtra, millets are highly valued for their slow-digesting nature and rich nutrition, especially during fasting periods. Here, a highly polished variety of millets is preferred. On the other hand, in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, the focus is on removing the outer husk without extensive polishing.
  3. Extending Shelf Life through Innovation: To address the challenge of short shelf life post-dehusking, innovative solutions like manual separators and small separators have been introduced. Additionally, polishing millets by 2% to 3% after dehusking can further extend their shelf life, ensuring their availability for longer periods.
  4. Customizing Millet Products for Different Needs: The fibrous nature of some millets poses another challenge, requiring customization based on consumer preferences and needs. While children and pregnant women benefit from non-fibrous millets, adults, diabetics, and obese individuals may require fibrous varieties. Understanding the target audience is crucial in product development.
  5. Innovative Millet Products and Processing Techniques: Various innovative millet products and processing techniques have emerged to cater to diverse preferences and tastes. Ragi bread, cookies, and other snacks are popular choices, with additional fat added to prevent breakage. Parboiling finger millet not only extends shelf life but also facilitates husk removal.
  6. Powdered Millets for Versatile Usage: Powdered millets offer versatility in usage, especially for hard-to-cook varieties like brown millets. Millet powders can be used in a variety of dishes, including ready-to-eat mixes and ragi-based products suitable for children, the elderly, and individuals with digestive issues.

Despite the challenges posed by husk removal, short shelf life, and fibrous nature, millets hold immense promise as a nutritious and sustainable food source. With innovative processing techniques, customization options, and versatile product offerings, we can unlock the full potential of millets and pave the way for a healthier and more sustainable future.



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