University of Hyderabad conducts Millet-Utopia for school students

A mega-event was organised to spread awareness on the theme ‘millets for food and nutrition’ among the students of classes 8, 9, and 10.

Hyderabad: The University of Hyderabad (UoH) is conducting a program titled “Millet-Utopia” as part of the international year of Millets 2023.

Since October 2022, monthly events have been conducted relevant to millets and their significance. In this regard, a mega-event was organised to spread awareness on the theme ‘millets for food and nutrition’ among the students of classes 8, 9, and 10. The program was well received by the schools.

830 students from 34 schools in Hyderabad participated, along with 74 teachers. This event was organized by Convenor, UoH-IYoM 2023 Dr M. Muthamilarasan, in collaboration with the Indian National Young Academy of Sciences (INYAS), New Delhi.

The inaugural function of ‘Millet-Utopia’ was held at the auditorium of the School of Life Sciences, in which Prof. Rajeev Varshney, of Murdoch University, Australia, and, Senior Scientist, DBT-NIPGR, New Delhi, Dr Manoj Prasad joined as special invitees. Department of Plant Sciences’ head, professor S Rajagopal welcomed the participants and delivered the opening remarks.

It was followed by the keynote address of Prof. Rajeev Varshney. Prof. Varshney demonstrated how genomics delivers improved crop varieties to the farmers and how genome sequencing of pearl millet played a role in accentuating India’s contribution to millet genome sequencing. Prasad described how millets could serve as a source of informative genes useful for climate-resilient agriculture.

He demonstrated an example of a small heat shock protein-encoding gene isolated from foxtail millet, which conferred tolerance to heat stress when overexpressed in rice. Students who attended the talks were very interactive and asked several interesting questions to both speakers.

Later, ICRISAT Principal Scientist Dr Mani Vetriventhan, 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.

Over 100 students participated in the quiz, which was held at the class level – students who qualified in the preliminary round contested in the finals. In paragraph writing, 147 students participated and wrote their perspectives on the questions asked on the spot. 221 students participated in the drawing competition.

Approximately 147 students gave a brief presentation 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.

112 students participated in the debate, where students from various classes spoke in favour and against the motion, ‘can millets be food for the future?’

The valediction and prize distribution ceremonies were held at Amphi-Theatre at the Students’ Amenities Center. Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, Prof. BJ Rao, was the chief guest, and Prof. Vineet P Nair, Chief Warden, was the Guest-of-Honour.

Professor 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. Following this, the Vice-Chancellor addressed the students.

He expressed his happiness in seeing 800+ school children on the campus who came to participate in the event related to millets. These students will serve as the ambassadors for millets, he noted. He also emphasized that the students should try having millet-based meals at home, and finally, he congratulated the winners.

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