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What Are Coarse Cereals?

Context:

Government push to coarse cereals as climate change affects wheat, paddy cultivation.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Coarse Cereals?
  2. Significance
  3. Why has the Government changed its attention to Coarse Cereals?

What are Coarse Cereals?

  • The country’s agroclimatic zones with limited resources have traditionally grown coarse cereals.
    • Agroclimatic zones are geographic areas with predominant climates that are ideal for a particular range of crops and cultivars.
  • Sorghum, pearl millet, maize, barley, finger millet and other small millets such as kodo millet, little millet, foxtail millet, proso millet and barnyard millet together called coarse cereals.
  • Coarse Cereals Producing States: Karnataka, Rajasthan, Puducherry, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh etc.

Uses of Coarse Cereals:

  • The cultivation of Millets like sorghum and pearl millet in some Northern States like Haryana, Punjab and Western UP is primarily done for fodder purposes.
  • The demand for coarse cereals for animals and poultry feed is on the rise.
    • In India, feed requirements are met from waste food grains in general and made especially from coarse cereals.
    • Maize is the preferred carbohydrate source in poultry feed.

Significance:

  • Coarse cereals are renowned for their high nutrient content and for having traits such as resistance to drought,  climate change and photosensitivity.
  • These crops also have a bright future as a prospective exportable product and in the food processing sector.
  • Their cultivation for human consumption, feed & fodder for livestock & poultry, use as fuel, and industrial uses is prevalent in drought-prone locations.
  • They are a great weapon against malnutrition because of their high nutritional value.
  • It aids in creating jobs in low-rainfall locations when there are few other alternative crops that can be utilised as a backup crop.

Why has the Government changed its attention to Coarse Cereals?

  • The country’s output of wheat and paddy has been impacted by climate change, signalling a need to shift the emphasis to coarse cereals.
    • Due to unpredictable weather patterns, the cultivation of wheat and paddy will not be sufficient to meet the country’s food needs.
  • The government’s fear about the Kharif season production has grown due to the unpredictable monsoon of 2022.
  • In the majority of areas in 2022, paddy and pulse sowing was severely impacted.
  • The traits of coarse cereals include resistance to drought, climate change and photosensitivity.
  • Compared to summer paddy farming, it is less expensive to cultivate, and it uses less water for irrigation.
  • In 2022, 17.63 million hectares of coarse cereals were sown, compared to 16.93 million hectares in 2021.
    • The nation currently produces 50 million tonnes of coarse cereals.
    • The most common crops are millets and maize.

-Source: Down to Earth


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