Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Millet crop is the best solution for climate smart agriculture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : examples of nutri-cereals

Mains level : climate resilient agriculture

milletContext

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

What are millets crops?

  • Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for human food and as fodder.

Features Millet crops in India

  • Big three: The three major millet crops currently growing in India are jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet) and ragi (finger millet).
  • Examples: India also grows a rich array of bio-genetically diverse and indigenous varieties of “small millets” like kodo, kutki, chenna and sanwa.
  • Area of production: Major producers include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.

milletWhat are Advantages of millet cultivation?

  • Low input cost: cereals are good for the soil, have shorter cultivation cycles and require less cost-intensive cultivation.
  • Climate resilience: These unique features make millets suited for and resilient to India’s varied agro-climatic conditions.
  • Drought tolerance: cereals are not water or input-intensive, making them a sustainable strategy for addressing climate change and building resilient agri-food systems.

milletReduction in millet production

  • Effects of Green Revolution: The Green Revolution succeeded in making India food sufficient, however, it also led to water-logging, soil erosion, groundwater depletion and the unsustainability of agriculture.
  • Deficit mind-set: Current policies are still based on the “deficit” mind-set of the 1960s.
  • Biased policies: The procurement, subsidies and water policies are biased towards rice and wheat.
  • Skewed cropping pattern: Three crops (rice, wheat and sugarcane) corner 75 to 80 per cent of irrigated water.
  • Lack of diversification: Diversification of cropping patterns towards cereals, pulses, oilseeds, horticulture is needed for more equal distribution of water, sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.

What can be done to promote millets as nutri-cereals?

1) Rebranding the cereals as nutri-cereals

  • The first strategy from a consumption and trade point of view was to re-brand coarse cereals/millets as nutri-cereals.
  • As of 2018-19, millet production had been extended to over 112 districts across 14 states.

2) Incentive through hiking MSP

  • Second, the government hiked the MSP of nutri-cereals, which came as a big price incentive for farmers.
  • From 2014-15 to 2020 MSPs for ragi has jumped by 113 per cent, by 72 per cent for bajra and by 71 per cent for jowar.
  • MSPs have been calculated so that the farmer is ensured at least a 50 per cent return on their cost of production.

3) Providing steady markets through inclusion in PDS

  • To provide a steady market for the produce, the Modi government included millets in the public distribution system.

4) Increasing area, production and yield

  • The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare is running a Rs 600-crore scheme to increase the area, production and yield of nutri-cereals.
  • With a goal to match the cultivation of nutri-cereals with local topography and natural resources, the government is encouraging farmers to align their local cropping patterns to India’s diverse 127 agro-climatic zones.
  • Provision of seed kits and inputs to farmers, building value chains through Farmer Producer Organisations and supporting the marketability of nutri-cereals are some of the key interventions that have been put in place.

5) Intersection of agriculture and nutrition

  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development has been working at the intersection of agriculture and nutrition by -1) setting up nutri-gardens, 2) promoting research on the interlinkages between crop diversity and dietary diversity 3) running a behaviour change campaign to generate consumer demand for nutri-cereals.

Conclusion

  • India should aim for a food systems transformation, which can be inclusive and sustainable, ensure growing farm incomes and nutrition security. As the government sets to achieve its agenda of a malnutrition-free India and doubling of farmers’ incomes, the promotion of the production and consumption of nutri-cereals seems to be a policy shift in the right direction.

Mains question

Q. Promotion of millet crops serves the dual purpose of securing health and supporting farmers. Elucidate.

 

 

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