Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

International Year of Millets 2023

Launch Ceremony

Opening Remarks


Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

6 December 2022



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Colleagues,

1. I am pleased to launch the International Year of Millets 2023.

2. Millets are ancestral crops with high nutritional value.

3. They have served as a traditional staple food for millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and they are now cultivated across the world.

4. 8000 years ago they were already growing in Northern China and India.

5. They can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and are resilient to shocks and stresses brought about by climate change – it is a very resilient crop.

6. Millets can play an important role and contribute to our collective efforts to:

  • empower smallholder farmers
  • achieve sustainable development
  • eliminate hunger
  • adapt to climate change
  • promote biodiversity, and
  • transform agrifood systems.

7. At its 75th session last year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Resolution to declare 2023 the International Year of Millets, indicating FAO as the lead UN agency for its implementation.

8. I would like to recognize and thank the Government of India for proposing this International Year, and for chairing its Steering Committee.

9. This International Year is a timely reminder of this important crop,

10. And it provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness of, and to direct policy attention to:

  • One: the nutritional and health benefits of millet consumption,
  • Two: the suitability of millets for cultivation under adverse and changing climatic conditions, and
  • Three: creating sustainable and innovative market opportunities for many countries around the world for millets to benefit farmers and consumers globally.

11. The genetic diversity of millets offers opportunities for economic development and income-generation,

12. And new and innovative business opportunities also exist in therapeutic, pharmaceutical and specialized chemistry markets.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

13. FAO has been leading the One Country One Priority Product initiative to support countries to focus on the development of Special Agricultural Products, which hold unique qualities, untapped potential and special characteristics.

14. Millets as dryland grains with climate resilient and nutritious properties were identified as a Special Agricultural Product by India,

15. In line with the International Year’s slogan: Millets are rich in heritage and full of potential.

16. The International Year of Millets aligns with FAO’s vision of the Four Betters: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life for all, leaving no one behind.

17. In support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.

Dear Friends,

18. I encourage your active participation in observing and promoting the International Year of Millets 2023.

19. And I am very pleased to declare the International Year of Millets 2023 officially open.

20. Let us work together in an efficient, effective and coherent manner to ensure that the International Year of Millets 2023 is successful, with fruitful actions and impactful outcomes.

21. Thank you.