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

Millets the future of Sustainable Agriculture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission Millets

Mains level : Mission Millets .Advantages of Millets Crop

Millets

Context

  • International Year of Millets in 2023 was approved by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2018 and the United Nations General Assembly has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. The Odisha Government had launched Odisha Millet Mission (OMM), which aims to bring millets back to its fields and food plates by encouraging farmers to grow the crops that traditionally formed a substantial part of the diet and crop system in tribal areas.

Millets

Importance of millets

  • Nutrition rich: Millet is a good source of protein, fibre, key vitamins, and minerals. The potential health benefits of millet include protecting cardiovascular health, preventing the onset of diabetes, helping people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and managing inflammation in the gut.Millet is fibrous in content, has magnesium, Niacin (Vitamin B3), is gluten-free and has a high protein content.
  • Requires less water: Millet’s comprise a significant staple in the semiarid tropic and guarantee food and nutritional security for needy individuals, who can’t develop other food crops because of poor rainfall and soil fertility. They are profoundly nutritious and are utilized by people in the rural area.
  • Requires Moderate fertile soils: They can grow in low to medium fertile soils and in areas of low rainfall. Jowar, Bajra, and Ragi are the significant Millet’s developed in India.
  • Profitable crop: Millets are the good choice for farmers to achieve primary goals of Farming e.g., profit, versatility, and manageability.
  • Drought resistant and sustainable: Millet’s are the ‘marvel grains’ of the future as they are drought resistant which need few external inputs. Due to its high resistance against harsh conditions, millets are sustainable to the environment, to the farmer growing it, and provide cheap and high nutrient options for all.
  • Long shelf life: Nearly 40 percent of the food produced in India is wasted every year. Millets do not get destroyed easily, and some of the millets are good for consumption even after 10-12 years of growing, thus providing food security, and playing an important role in keeping a check on food wastage.

Millets

What is Odisha Millet mission (OMM) and its impact?

  • Promotion of millets: OMM promotes production and consumption of seven millets. But so far, focus has been on ragi, which has accounted for 86 per cent of the total area under millets, according to data on the OMM website. In contrast, little millet, foxtail millet, sorghum, pearl millet, kodo millet and barnyard millet cover less than 13 per cent of the area.
  • Non ragi millets: Mission aimed at looking for high-yielding seeds for non-ragi millets. Farmers are urged to plant some non-ragi millets
  • Limited procurement: In 2020-21, the state government procured slightly more than 20 million kg of ragi. However, this accounts for only 27 per cent of the total ragi produced, as OMM procures only 500 kg of ragi per ha and leaves the rest for farmers to consume.
  • Millets in diet for complete nutrition: This practice has prompted farmers to consume more millets in all seasons, shows a mid-term evaluation by NCDS in 2019-20. But given that average yield is 1,500 kg per ha, much of the produce does not get procured and farmers are forced to sell it at distressed rate. OMM officials also admit that despite ragi being distributed in PDS and as a mix through anganwadi centres in two districts, its consumption has not picked up in a significant manner.
  • Diverse products of Millets: OMM also sells millet products, such as cookies, savoury snacks, vermicelli and processed millets, under a brand called “Millet Shakti” through food trucks, cafés, kiosks and other outlets.
  • Food processing chain using SHGs: Women self-help groups (SHGs) have been kept at the centre of the programme. They do not just pay a major role in manufacturing biological inputs to improve millet yields and undertake processing of the produce, but also operate the millet-based cafés and outlets.The full potential of SHGs, though, has not yet been realised. So far, only three women’s SHGs manufacture and process Millet Shakti products, which limits the volume available, income generated, and consumption.
  • Market linkage by FPOs: OMM also leverages farmer-producer organisations (FPOs) to provide better marketing linkages. Until now, OMM has tapped into existing FPOs to sell processed millets in the open market or aggregate produce for Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation of Odisha Limited; if a block does not have an FPO, an SHG or community group is registered as one.
  • Current status of FPO’S: Currently, there are 76 FPOs under OMM. But some of them are engaged only in minor processing and aggregation, without plans of scaling up market linkages. Encouraging FPOs with better incentives and benefit-sharing will help them compete in the market

Millets

What are other government efforts to promote millet crops?

  • Smart food campaign: Smart Food with the tagline ‘good for you, good for the planet and good for the smallholder farmer’ is an initiative that will initially focus on popularising millets, and sorghum and has been selected by LAUNCH Food as one of the winning innovations for 2017.
  • Popularising the millets: Smart Food will be taken forward as a partnership and many organisations have already teamed up to popularise millets. In India, this includes Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR), National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

Conclusion

  • One way to double farm incomes and encourage farm diversification is to make millet production attractive by introducing millet cultivation in areas where farmers’ distress is visible.Dedicated programmes with proper training and capacity-building initiatives that urge farmers to move away from loss-making crops toward diversification via millets can be a timely method to pull farmers away from the region’s distress.

Mains Question

Q.why millets cultivation is suitable for geographic conditions of India? Analyse the various efforts by government to promote the millets.

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