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.
GS-III: Agriculture (Agricultural Resources, Food Security and Nutrition, Government Policies and Interventions related to agriculture)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About MP’s Dindori project
- About Millets in India
- Advantages of promoting millets
- Need for reviving the production and consumption of millets
- 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