2023 APSA Field Crops Webinar on Millets 15 June 2023 / 14:00 - 16:00 hrs. (GMT+7)

APSA Field Crops Webinar on Millets
celebrating the International Year of Millets #IYM2023
15 June 2023 at 14:00 – 16:00 hrs ICT (GMT+7)


14.00 – 14.10

Opening of the Webinar
Dr MD Ali Afzal, Co-Chair, APSA Special Interest Group for Field Crops 

14.10 – 14.40

Enabling global millet makeover for food and nutrition security in the climate change scenario
Dr Vilas A Tonapi, Former Director, ICAR – Indian Institute of Millets Research & Technical Consultant, Advanta Seeds

14.40 – 15.00

Discussion and Q&A Session

15.00 – 15.30

Status of millets improvement and the way forward
Dr Rajendra Singh Mahala, President Research – Field Crops, SeedWorks International Pvt. Ltd

15.30 – 15.50

Discussion and Q&A Session

15.50 – 16.00

Closing remarks
Dr MD Ali Afzal, Co-Chair, APSA Special Interest Group for Field Crops


Dr Vilas A Tonapi
Former Director, ICAR – Indian Institute of Millets Research
Technical Consultant, Advanta Seeds


Dr. Vilas A. Tonapi is Former Director of ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research, Hyderabad with 35 years of Research, Administrative and Academic experience. He has also served as Head, Division of Seed Science and Technology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. He had his graduation and post-graduation from UAS, Bangalore and Ph.D from TNAU. He did his post-Doctoral from University of Queensland, Australia. 

His special attainments include Planning, development and management of crop improvement programs and strategies for food and nutritional security of self and cross-pollinated crops for dry and irrigated ecosystems, Participatory seed system development, Protection of Plant varieties, Farmer’s Rights & IPR management.

His team’s dedicated efforts between 2016 to 2022 lead to development of 52 high yielding varieties of Millets, and declaration of the year 2018-19 the as “National Year of Millets” further leading to rechristening “Millets” as “Nutri-cereals”, and International year of Millets 2023. He is instrumental in establishing “Technology Business Incubator” known as “Nutrihub” at IIMR, sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, India. It has now created more than 500 start-ups. During his tenure, the institute bagged for the first time the prestigious ICAR’s “Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award” and “Outstanding Institute award” by Govt of Karmnataka in 2018, “Chaudhary Devi Lal Outstanding All India Coordinated Research Project Award 2019" and “Kirloskar Vasundhara Mitra Award in 2022”.

He is recipient of RV Swaminathan Gold medal for his Ph.D, JN TATA endowment fellowship for Post-Doctoral programme, and distinguished service award to seed industry by Seedsmen Association. 

He has to his credit 60 research papers in peer reviewed journals, 30 books, and more than 75 papers presented in National and International seminars and symposia.

He is now working with Advanta Seeds, a UPL- group company

Dr Rajendra Singh Mahala
President Research – Field Crops, SeedWorks International Pvt. Ltd

Dr. Mahala is President Research (Field Crops) in Seedworks International Pvt. Ltd. Since January 2019. He started his career as pearl millet breeder in 1986 with Corteva (formerly known as Pioneer seeds). During his 32 years of career with Corteva Agriscience, he developed 30 plus commercial millet hybrids. Pearl millet hybrids developed by Dr. R. S. Mahala are grown on an average of 2.0 –2.5 million hectares or 25-30% of total hybrid volume every year for last 25 years in India. 
He co-authored two books on “Twenty-five Years of Pearl Millet Improvement in India” and “Pearl millet seed production technology” released by AICPMIP, ICAR. Pearl millet research team led by Dr. Mahala won “Best Pearl Millet Research Project” from Project coordinator, AICPMIP. On Sept. 18, 2014, Dr. Mahala was felicitated by Minister of Agriculture, Govt. of Telangana in a ceremony organized by Seedsmen Association for his path breaking work in the research and development of pearl millet hybrids in India. In March 2022, Dr Mahala was conferred “Lifetime achievement award” in plant breeding by the foundation for Advanced Training in Plant Breeding (ATPBR). He was a member of CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) at ICRISAT on Dryland Cereals independent Advisory Committee for three years from 2013-2015. He was chairperson of HPRC for Pearl millet, Sorghum and Pigeon Pea at ICRISAT from 2018-2019.

Status of millets improvement and the way forward

Millets are a critical part of agri-food systems, for human and animal nutrition, climate resilience and for sustainable ecosystem. Asia and Africa together account for 97% of global millet production. India has 20% share in global millets area and production and average yields of millets (1239 kg/ha) have surpassed golbal average yields (1229 kg/ha). In last three decades technological innovations, product development and delivery in millets has been very impressive in India. Despite of decrease in area about 20 M ha (56%), overall productivity has increased 2.5 times due to adoption of high yielding varieties/hybrids, strategic Govt. policy initiatives and public private partnerships-based research. Some of the examples are germplasm support through ICAR-ICRISAT-HarvestPlus partnership programs, ICRISAT hybrid parent research consortium, product testing and release through AICRP system, and “truthful labelled” seed policy etc. 

Millets lost the attention during green revolution period due to high focus on wheat and rice from food security perspective. It is time to take a relook from food security to the nutritional security while restoring soil health and climate resilience. Policy initiatives to promote millets are critical for demand generation. To make rapid progress in future there is a need to fast track cutting edge technologies such as gene editing to tackle traits that are difficult to handle with conventional breeding like Iron and Zinc, rancidity, ergot, blast, grain mold, shoot fly, drought, heat and salt tolerance etc. This is the era of collaborations and partnerships. Leveraging PPP approach will be a great step towards making rapid progress in millets improvement in future. Demand is expected to increase due to awareness about health benefits, growing interest in gluten-free foods, and availability of wide range of ready to eat value added products in the market in recent years. Millets market is expected to grow over 14 billion USD at a CAGR of 4.6% during 2019-2027. Share of organic millets is also expected to grow over 29.7% at a CAGR of 5.6%. Asia Pacific is the dominant market with 40.9% market share followed by the Middle East (32.0%) and Europe (14.1%). There is large untapped sorghum and pearl millet seed market (>30 m ha) in ESA & WCA and seed companies have opportunities to establish a reliable seed system in ESA and WCA through PPP mode and expand millets business in Africa. 

International Year of Millets 2023 is a great opportunity to mainstream nutricereals into the diets of people.


Countries & Territories Time Zones Event Time
Iowa, USA UTC -05:00 02:00 – 04:00
Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria UTC +02:00 09:00 - 11:00
Kuwait, Turkey UTC +03:00 10:00 - 12:00
Iran UTC +03:30 10:30 – 12:30
Pakistan UTC +05:00 12:00 - 14:00
India, Sri Lanka UTC +05:30 12:30 – 14:30
Nepal UTC +05:45 12:45 – 13:45
Bangladesh, Krygyztan UTC +06:00 13:00 - 15:00
Myanmar UTC +06:30 13:30 - 15:30
Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam UTC +07:00 14:00 - 16:00
China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong-China, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore UTC +08:00 15:00 - 17:00
Japan, South Korea UTC +09:00 16:00 - 18:00
Australia (Canberra) UTC +11:00 17:00 - 19:00
New Zealand (Wellington) UTC +13:00 19:00 - 21:00