The ‘Proud daughter of Soil’, ‘The Milletpreneur’, ‘The Millet Mom’ – Sharmila Oswal – popularly known as the “Millet Woman of India” has been applauded by Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India several times, and been included in the popular talkshow Maan Ki Baat’s 97th episode. At the 100th special episode of Mann Ki Baat, Mrs. Oswal’s Millet story was signed by Shri Narendra Modi and published in the Coffee Table book released by Government of India.
She is a passionate advocate for sustainable organic agriculture and the promotion of millets, a group of highly nutritious grains that have been largely ignored in the modern food system. Mrs. Oswal has specialised in Agro-Water-Food Security-Nutrition nexus, training and empowering farmers of India, creating sustainable livelihoods and has been working in the field of agriculture for more than two decades. Mrs. Oswal is Agro-Water Diplomat from MIT Harvard and qualified as Water Leader in Water Governance & Policy NUS Singapore.
She has dedicated her life to promoting sustainable organic agriculture, natural farming and the consumption of climate resilient environment friendly millets. Her efforts have not only improved public health but also contributed to the preservation of traditional farming practices and the conservation of natural resources. She is an inspiration to many and a true champion of sustainable food systems. Mrs. Oswal is truly a change maker, creating India’s smart food revolution through millets.
Mrs. Sharmila Oswal’s interest in millets began when she observed the alarming rise of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease in India, which she attributed to the shift towards highly processed and refined foods. She soon realized that millets, which are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, could be the solution to the country’s growing health crisis.
In 2010 Mrs. Oswal founded the NGO “Green Energy Foundation” which works to promote sustainable farming practices and the conservation of indigenous seed varieties. Through GEF’s India Millet Mission project, she began conducting workshops and training sessions for farmers to promote the cultivation of millets and other traditional crops. She also collaborated with chefs and food enthusiasts to develop new recipes using millets, in order to make them more appealing to the modern palate.
She has received numerous awards and accolades for her work, including prestigious awards like Millet Woman of India, Water Woman of India, Rashtriya Gaurav Puraskar, Most Powerful Woman in Top 100 Women of the World by United Nations in 2020, Best Millet Entrepreneur by ICAR IIMR Central Government of India, Best Woman Entrepreneur, Times of India Social Impact Award, TOI Earth Care Award etc. She has also been recognized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for her contributions to sustainable agriculture.
One of Mrs. Oswal’s most notable efforts is bringing all millet start ups, FPOs, farmers together creating Millet Association of India – a coalition of farmers, scientists, and food enthusiasts working towards the promotion and conservation of millets. MAOI has been instrumental in reviving the cultivation of millets in various parts of India and has played a key role in increasing the demand for these grains.
Mrs. Oswal’s work has also had a significant impact on the environment. Millets are drought-resistant crops that require less water and fertilizer than other grains, making them a more sustainable option for farmers. By promoting the cultivation of millets, Mrs. Oswal is not only improving public health but also contributing to the conservation of natural resources and the preservation of traditional farming practices.