Young students will serve as the ambassadors for millets, says Prof. B J Rao

Around 110 students took part in the class-level quiz; students who qualified in the preliminary round competed in the finals

Prof. B J Rao

HYDERABAD: As many as 830 school students participated in Millet-Utopia, organized by the University of Hyderabad(UoH) as a part of the International Year of Millets (IYM) 2023.

The University of Hyderabad was actively participating in commemorating the International Year of Millets 2023, and since October 2022, monthly events related to millets and their importance have been held. In addition, a mega-event was organised to raise awareness about'millets for food and nutrition' among students in classes 8, 9, and 10.

Around 110 students took part in the class-level quiz; students who qualified in the preliminary round competed in the finals. 147 students took part in paragraph writing and wrote their thoughts on the questions posed on the spot. 221 students took part in the drawing, giving shape to their imaginations and bringing them to life through their sketches.

Around 147 students gave a brief talk on 'millets to mitigate hidden hunger,' and a preliminary round was conducted before the finals. Twenty-four schools participated in the skit, where the students enacted short plays in SLS Seminar Hall, emphasizing the importance of millets. Similarly, 112 students participated in the debate, where students from different classes spoke in favour and against the motion, 'can millets be food for the future?'

This programme, termed 'Millet-Utopia,' received a resounding response from the schools, with 830 students from 34 schools in Hyderabad, as well as 74 teachers, taking part. Dr. M. Muthamilarasan, Convenor, UoH-IYoM 2023, organised this event in collaboration with the Indian National Young Academy of Sciences (INYAS) in New Delhi.

The inaugural function of 'Millet-Utopia' was held at the School of Life Sciences Auditorium, with special invitees Prof. Rajeev Varshney, Professor, Murdoch University, Australia, and Dr. Manoj Prasad, Senior Scientist, DBT-NIPGR, New Delhi. Prof. S. Rajagopal, Head of the Department of Plant Sciences, welcomed everyone and gave the opening remarks.

Prof. N. Siva Kumar, Dean of SLS, delivered the presidential address, which was followed by Prof. Rajeev Varshney's keynote address. Prof. Varshney demonstrated to the participants how genomics provides farmers with improved crop varieties and how genome sequencing of pearl millet played a role in emphasising India's contribution to millet genome sequencing.

Dr. Manoj Prasad discussed how millets could be used to generate informative genes for climate-resilient agriculture. He demonstrated how a small heat shock protein-encoding gene isolated from foxtail millet conferred heat stress tolerance when overexpressed in rice. Students who attended the talks were very interactive and asked both speakers several interesting questions.

Dr. Mani Vetriventhan, Principal Scientist at ICRISAT in Hyderabad, then spoke about the importance of germplasm conservation. Students learned the value of preserving seeds for the future from his speech. The competitions were held concurrently at various locations in the SLS and CIS.

Later Dr. Mani Vetriventhan, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT, Hyderabad, delivered a talk on why germplasm conservation is essential. From his speech, students realized the importance of conserving the seeds for the future. Parallelly, the competitions were held at different venues in the SLS and CIS.

UoH Vice Chancellor Prof. BJ Rao also participated in the final round of debate held for Class 8 students in the Amphi-Theatre and posed challenging questions to the students that made them think and respond. While addressing the students, he expressed his happiness in seeing more than 800 school children on the campus who came to participate in the event related to millets. These stude…

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