Revalorising Small Millets in Rainfed Regions of South Asia
An Action Research Project to Raise the Profile of Small Millets

project themes

Theme 3: Post-harvest processing and Value Addition

Evaluation of nutritional content and other attributes

A comparative biochemical analysis of nutrient content will be carried out for important varieties identified by farmers and rural consumers. The laboratory research will include proximate analyses (moisture, protein, lipids, carbohydrate and ash), and mineral composition (calcium and iron) as well as their bio-availability in products. Standard AOCS (1990) procedures will be used for these tests. Further, some recent studies have validated farmers’ knowledge about use of small millets for people with diabetes. Research will focus on characterizing different attributes of starches extracted from small millets. Nutritionally promising varieties will be assessed for their potential in developing value added products to address nutritional insecurity and the growing rural and urban epidemic of diabetes. Selected varieties will be recommended for the participatory breeding program to improve their productivity.

Development of millets based food products for rural and urban consumers

Millet based products are typically consumed immediately after preparation and have a very short shelf life. There are very few millet based products on the market; a common exception is a dried enriched malted powder that is used as a breakfast drink. Given the healthful attributes of millets compared to other grains, however, there is ample opportunity to develop retail products as well as improving the shelf life of products for rural household consumption. This project will draw on women’s knowledge of traditional foods to develop improved cooking processes and enhance the nutrient values and shelf-life of home cooked food products. This project will focus on alleviating health issues in the region including anemia, malnutrition and diabetes. Products will be evaluated for quality, shelf life and nutritional attributes using standard procedures. Consumer sensory evaluation will also be part of the product development process. Attention will be paid to the processes (unit operations) required to make products locally given their potential to generate income and employment in rural areas as well as to enhance rural consumption of these beneficial products.

Technology for de-hulling and milling of small millets

The post-harvest technology currently used by farmers for de-hulling is primarily designed for large sized grains. It yields a product that is inferior in terms of storage, taste and nutrient content. This project will develop a low cost, easy to use, efficient, and high capacity alternative appropriate technology. The project will assess available technology, if any, and make a plan for its adaptation to small millets. Students of local engineering colleges and local innovators would be engaged to brainstorm ideas for developing this technology. Prototypes will be constructed and tested at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University with part of the design and experimental work executed at McGill University, Canada. Once an appropriate technology is developed, it will be tested for quality of final output (cleaned grains and flour). These analyses will measure compositional, thermal and physical-chemical properties of the flours and compare them to traditional hand-pounded flours. A panel will be constituted and trained to evaluate sensory attributes of the flour slurry developed from the control flour.