First Lady of Niger (left) and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (right) interact with Ms Agathe Diama, Head- Regional Information, WCA-ICRISAT at Smart Food stall.

Niger’s inaugural national Millet Festival

The Niger government’s inaugural national millet festival (FESTIMIL) is a trailblazer and has succeeded in raising awareness on the importance of millets, recognizing the challenges of its value chain, creating synergy among actors, and attracting investment to improve food and nutrition security as well as income-generation activities.

“Since antiquity, millet is a staple food crop of our societies in the Sahel region in general and in Niger in particular. We need to work together with development partners like FAO and research organizations like ICRISAT and INRAN to support the production and productivity of millet,” said Mr. Albadé Abouba, Minister of State for Agriculture and Livestock.

“FESTIMIL contributes to the Government of Niger’s strong commitment to the promotion of local products. Millet being energy-dense and nutritious food, is particularly recommended for children, the elderly and also for convalescents,” added Mr. Abouba. He called on technical and financial partners for more support and investment in the development of millet value chains in Niger.

“Millet is adapted to poor and arid soils. It is a staple food produced by our hard-working farmers and consumed by more than 80% of our population. FESTIMIL is a chance for Nigeriens and the international community to know more about the extraordinary nutritional virtues of millet, especially for children, breastfeeding women and even the sick,” said the First Lady of Niger.

First Lady of Niger (left) and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (right) visited the Smart Food stall. The duo interacted with Ms Agathe Diama, Head-Regional Information, WCA-ICRISAT, who is also Smart Food Coordinator. As a follow-up, the first Lady requested a Smart Food Master Class for all chefs at the Niger Presidency and other key public institutions.

“Our commitment to this initiative is of great importance not only for our country, but also for all the Sahelian countries that have adopted millet for centuries and have made it their staple diet,” the First Lady, who is also the President of the Tattali Iyali Foundation, said.

“Tattali Iyali Foundation will always be by your side in promoting, enhancing and popularizing millet-based products, our common heritage. Let’s consume millets,” she added.

ICRISAT’s is the world’s leading center for research on millet, and has large research facilities in Niger for crop improvement and value chain research. Dr Carberry commended the outstanding partnership between Niger and ICRISAT while thanking the government and the First Lady for their support and engagement in promoting millet as a ‘Smart Food.

Exhibition booths of different millet products (raw and processed) from across Niger were presented to visitors and participants.

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