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The Indo-US Millets Initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of millets and sorghum and increase and exchange research regarding their implementation into current food systems. (Image source: Adobe Stock)


Sorghum United CEO, Nate Blum discusses the recent launch of the Indo-US Millets initiative that is bringing together major players across India and the US, to unlock the potential of resilient, nutrition-packed crops called millets

In a world grappling with the ever-increasing challenges of climate change, food security has become a paramount concern. With extreme weather events, water scarcity, and rising temperatures to contend with, it is imperative that we find climate-resilient agricultural solutions for the future to support our growing population. 

Many of the crops that we heavily rely on today, such as rice, wheat, and maize, are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Studies predict that maize production will drop 15-20% in North and South America by 2050, which could have a devastating effect on the population. Rice is a staple for nearly half of our population, yet rising temperatures could result in a 40% decrease in rice yields by 2100. In Africa and South Asia, where food security is already a significant concern, wheat yield is predicted to lower 15-16% by the middle of the century.

But all is not lost. The Indo-US Millets Initiative, a collaborative effort between organisations in India and the United States, has been launched to help solve these pressing food production issues. Spearheaded by several organisations across both countries, including the North American Millets Alliance, India Millets Initiative, Sorghum United, and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, the initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of millets and sorghum and increase and exchange research regarding their implementation into current food systems.

Despite being overshadowed for so long, millets and sorghum offer numerous nutritional and environmental benefits, and it’s time we take advantage of them. These grains have a significantly higher tolerance to drought and heat than maize, wheat, and rice, making them more reliable crops as global temperatures continue to elevate. Moreover, millets and sorghum require 30% less water than current staple crops, holding the potential to reduce water irrigation demand by 33%. In addition, they also provide numerous health benefits that wheat, rice and maize lack. 

As the Indo-US Millets Initiative works to bring millets and sorghum back into the limelight, there are several challenges to overcome. In order to increase the production of these grains, there is a pressing need for additional research into developing high-yielding seed varieties and efficient processing strategies as well as technical support for farmers. Public access and awareness must also be increased in order to incentivise these important steps.

The United Nations declared 2023 the 'International Year of Millets,' demonstrating an increasing interest in exploring millets as a weapon against food insecurity. With the initiative and other millets programmes, such as the Alternative Crops Lab, based in Nebraska, the area is poised to take the lead as a hub for millets and sorghum research and development within the US. Recently, experiments have been greenlighted to study the contrast in greenhouse gas emissions from maize and millets, and new varieties of millets have been tested in Nebraska’s climate. There have also been efforts to begin studies of consumer demand and farmer profitability.

Given the uncertainties surrounding future food production and the challenges posed by climate change, the importance of investigating millets and sorghum as viable solutions cannot be overstated. As these grains gain renewed popularity, they illuminate a sustainable path toward improving global health and securing food stability.

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The certification marks the first ASC Feed Standard awarded in Asia.


Thai Union has become the latest feed company to achieve ASC Feed Standard certification for its Mahachai Plant in Thailand, marking the first time this certification has been awarded in Asia

Monarch MK-V tractor demonstrating V2G through Borg Warner DCFC and Gridtractor CMS. (Image source: Gridtractor)


Gridtractor, Monarch Tractor, and Borg Warner have achieved a significant milestone by successfully demonstrating Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) capabilities utilising a Monarch MK-V tractor, a Borg Warner 60 kW DC fast charger, and Gridtractor’s cloud-based charge management system employing the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) 

The whitepaper highlights how the development work behind Berry’s new Omni Xtra+ PE version has created a film with a comparable performance to PVC, and which can also be recycled. (Image source: Berry Global)

Machinery & Equipment

A new white paper from Berry Global outlines the solution to finding an alternative to traditional polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cling films for fresh food applications 

PVC has been the material of choice for many years for fresh food applications thanks to its many protective and presentation benefits. However, its complex composition makes it difficult to recycle and if even minute amounts of the material are processed with other polymers, it can render the other recyclates unusable.

The whitepaper titled: 'How Omni Xtra+ Can Drive More Recycling of Cling Films,' details the challenges that users of PVC cling films now face owing to its inability to be widely recycled and how the development work behind Berry’s new Omni Xtra+ polyethylene (PE) version has created a film with a comparable performance to PVC, and which can also be recycled.

While PE films for overwrapped trays would provide a more consistent supply of used film for recycling, the challenge has been to develop a PE film that can match the performance of a PVC version. Key to the development of OminXtra+ therefore was to develop a recyclable PE film via both kerbside and front-of-store PE waste streams that combined strength, stretchability, and excellent clarity and resistance to puncturing.

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LightWeeding enables farming innovation

The LightWeeder is an agri-robot that can kill weeds using a unique concentrated light method. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Earth Rover, a UK based agri-robotics company and Agri-EPI Centre member, has developed the LightWeeder to solve key challenges faced by laser-based weeding systems

The LightWeeder is said to be the world’s first eye-safe, herbicide-free, carbon-neutral, commercially viable weeding system. The LightWeeding technology uses semiconductor LEDs to solve key technical, safety and commercialisation challenges faced by laser-based weeding systems.

The LightWeeder is part of CLAWS (Concentrated Light Autonomous Weeding and Scouting), an agri-robot that can kill weeds using a unique concentrated light method, and can also scout fields to obtain a complete data map of all crops after planting, showing the crops exact location, size, and any early signs of disease.

The main features of CLAWS are:

  • Weeding – chemical-free and inherently safer than laser weeding. No till and no crop damage and can be used in any conditions without compacting the soil.
  • Scouting – In-depth analysis of crops to allow better harvest predictions and increased yields.

The complete system is ultra-lightweight at 300kg, meaning it requires low amounts of energy to run, and is also claimed to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than many of its competitors. The system currently runs on batteries and in future, solar panels therefore uses no fossil fuels and help farmers meet their net-zero targets.

With increasing types of chemical-resistant weeds, a significant downturn in availability of hand labour plus a shift in society towards more organic options, now more than ever there is a need to change the way we farm. A recent report by Rothamsted Research shows weeds pose an unprecedented threat to our food security and highlights the need to diversify weed control as an urgent priority.

As explained by John Taylor, farm director at Pollybell Organic Farm, “The key element here is that the LightWeeder not only makes chemical-free farming more effective but it also solves the huge issue farmers are facing today in terms of the huge loss in the labour force. Being able to weed fields autonomously means that food production doesn’t just grind to a halt.”

According to Earth Rover, LighWeeder is energy-efficient and no-till and does not cause damage to drip irrigation or crops. It is also not dependent on soil conditions and does not enable weeds to develop resistance.