Power of millets

Power of millets

Miscellany

Power of millets

Farmers around this village have visited the field of Nagappa Nimbegondi and appreciated his venture.

Five years ago, Nagappa, farmer of Makari village, Haveri district, depended only on commercial crops. He used chemical fertilisers and pesticides a lot in his field. He grew BT cotton also. But, after the harvest, he realised he could not make much profits. Fed up with this situation, Nagappa decided to search for alternative crops.

Meanwhile Ishwarappa Banakar, a farmer of Hireyadachi village of Hirekerur taluk, established a millet seed bank in his house. This inspired Nagappa to switch over to traditional farming. He participated in the field visit day organised at Ishwarappa’s field and was impressed by varieties of finger millets.

Without wasting much time, Nagappa scoured for seeds and Sahaja Samrudha, the organic farmers’ association, provided some varieties of millet seeds. He sowed 31 varieties of millets which are all now in the harvesting stage. Recently a festival was organised in Nagappa’s field and hundreds of farmers took part in this unique programme.

Farmers found rare varieties like Underaagi, Kariddi raagi, Bondaraagi, Makariraagi, Vidaluraagi, pearl millet, Kodo millet, Proso millet and others.

“I have collected all the good quality seeds from every crop and these will be used for the next sowing season. I have suffered because I couldn’t procure good seeds during the previous years. Today, I have made sure that the seeds from my field are conserved,” says Nagappa Nimbegondi.

“I remember seeing a lot of these millets crops in my childhood days. But now, it is difficult to spot a millet crop. After hearing about Nagappa, I went to his field and found rare millets crops,” a farmer from Koppal said.

Millets now demand a good price in the market. But middlemen seem to be making more profits than farmers. Sahaja Samrudha has therefore started a new venture by providing direct market facility to farmers and linking farmers and food processing units. “Thanks to this vital link, farmers will get a good price for their produce. There are no middlemen involved in this process,” explains G Krishnaprasad, director of the organisation.

In Haveri district, many farmers are volunteering to grow millets and they have formed an association. Sahaja Samrudha has assured all types of co-operation including training, seed selection and distribution.

“This will be a step towards the revival of our traditional farming system. Millet crops are low-maintenance, in the sense that they neither require chemicals nor much irrigation. The nutritional value of millets is also high. Farmer can therefore get a good income from millet farming,” says C ShanthKumar of the organisation.

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