Mera Terah Run 2016, with its tagline “Miles for Millets’ is running to raise awareness & promote the rich, nutritious, forgotten local superfood family- ‘Millets’.
Millets grow aplenty in India, provide rich nutrition in local diets, and survive in drought prone areas. But millets are hard to find today in most Indian cuisine. Knowledge of millets and their benefits, and of millet based recipes is marginal at best among consumers. This translates to very little returns for farmers growing these grains, who have had to turn to cultivating other crops, taking on even larger risks, with some getting caught in a deadly debt spiral/chakravyuh.
Even in places where millets are cultivated in reasonable quantities, very few families eat millets today. There is a rich cultural history and culinary heritage of millets in nearly every corner of the sub-continent that we have almost lost in the last couple of decades. Increasing the status of millets locally while making it aspirational (rather than something old people harangue about!) would go a long way in reviving traditional grains and moving towards a more sustainable food system. It is also necessary to publicize that unlike earlier times, all millets can now be processed without tedious manual labour.
Good nutrition and good exercise are crucial for a healthy life. So promoting millets through the running program is a natural collaboration.
The 13 Days in December and Auxiliary events
The planned route for this year traverses some of the diverse millet growing, processing and consuming centers of south & central India. Starting on 15th December 2016 with a run in Bangalore, the ‘happening’ city with a huge potential market for millets and ending at the scenic coastal town of Vishakapatnam and its adjoining Araku valley hill station on 27th December 2016. The travel schedule can be found here:
This year the yatris will halt for two days at each railstop ( and hence we will do two runs at each railstop!). 7 runs in urban centers and 6 runs in nearby rural areas. This will allow the team more time to interact with the local community at each place. Local millet promotion events are proposed to be held on the dates that the runners will be in town. A press conference / media outreach could precede the runs and the events. I The costs will be borne by the runners. Local event management, organizing logistics and coordination support is being sought from local partner organizations.
The main 13 day event in December and the auxiliary events, the 18th September Kick-Off with a Cook-Off, Oct 1st and 2nd: Run at a Place where Millets are cultivated and Processed, will focus on promoting millet cultivation, processing and consumption in tune with boosting the local millet endeavours both enterprises and non-profit ones. We hope to highlight the amazing work being done by farmers and organizations to revive the tradition of millets.