Context:

MP’s Dindori project shows the way forward for India as Millets pose production and consumption challenges towards achieving the food and nutritional security goals.

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture (Agricultural Resources, Food Security and Nutrition, Government Policies and Interventions related to agriculture)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About MP’s Dindori project
  2. About Millets in India
  3. Advantages of promoting millets
  4. Need for reviving the production and consumption of millets
  5. Steps taken to promote millets

About MP’s Dindori project

  • In 2013-14, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) supported an initiative to revive Kodo and Kutki Millets cultivation in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The project began with about 1500 women-farmers, mostly from the Gonda and Baiga tribes¸ growing these two minor millets (Kodo and Kutki).
  • The identified farmers were supplied good-quality seeds and trained by scientists on field preparation, line-sowing (as opposed to conventional broadcasting by hand) and application of compost, zinc, bavistin fungicide and other specific plant protection chemicals.
  • A federation of the farmers’ self-help groups undertook procurement of the produce and also its mechanical de-hulling (the traditional manual pounding process to remove husk from the grain was time-consuming).
  • This Project helped to increase the number of farmers growing kodo-kutki in the project area and in meeting nutritional goals while reviving millet cultivation in the process.

About Millets in India

  • Jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet) and ragi (finger millet) are the three major millet crops currently grown in India.
  • Kodo, kutki, chenna and sanwa are bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “small millets”.
  • Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana are the major producers of Millets.

Advantages of promoting millets

  • Millets are less expensive and nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their high protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals like iron content.
  • Millets are also rich in calcium and magnesium.
  • Its high iron content can fight high prevalence of anaemia in Indian women of reproductive age and infants.
  • They are also harder and drought-resistant crops, which has to do with their short growing season (70-100 days, as against 120-150 days for paddy/wheat) and lower water requirement (350-500 mm versus 600-1,200 mm).
  • As low investment is needed for production of millets, these can prove to be a sustainable income source for farmers.
  • Millets can help tackle lifestyle problems and health challenges such as obesity and diabetes as they are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index (a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels).

Need for reviving the production and consumption of millets

  • India has seen a jump in consumer demand for ultra-processed and ready-to-eat products, which are high in sodium, sugar, trans-fats and even some carcinogens.
  • In rural India, the National Food Security Act of 2013 entitles three-fourths of all households to 5 kg of wheat or rice per person per month at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg, respectively, thus reducing the demand for millets.
  • With the intense marketing of processed foods, even the rural population started perceiving mill-processed rice and wheat as more aspirational.

Steps taken to promote millets

  • The government has increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Millets and also included millets in the public distribution system.
  • The Union Agriculture Ministry, in April 2018, declared millets as “Nutri-Cereals”, considering their “high nutritive value” and also “anti-diabetic properties”.
  • The government has introduced provision of seed kits and inputs to farmers, building value chains through Farmer Producer Organizations and supporting the marketability of millets.
  • The United Nation General Assembly adopted an India-sponsored resolution to mark 2023 as the International Year of Millets. 2018 was also observed as ‘National Year of Millets”.

-Source: The Hindu

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