Govt urged to support millet cultivation

“The governments must support mixed cropping with equal emphasis on millets along with the regular cereals like paddy and wheat.

It will serve two purposes - ensure supply of nutrients to the population through food and effective usage of the irrigation-based dry agricultural land,” Channakeshava, coordinator for The Pipal Tree told a news conference here on Monday.

According to a survey conducted by the Pipal Tree and the Millet Network of India in 10 villages in H D Kote taluk, the millet growing was fully abandoned by farmers, who have chosen commercial crops like paddy, wheat, sugarcane, ginger, turmeric and other commercial crops.

 A similar survey was done in 14 districts across eight states Andhra Pradesh, Gujarath,
Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and was found 65 per cent of the farmers had stopped growing millets unlike their predecessors did -- growing millets in mixed crop method.

“The declining share of millets grown is a matter of concern as they provide essential nutrients. Some of the millets are on the verge of extinction and some other types have vanished completely,” he said.

The increase in temperature and monsoon vagaries would only add to the woes of both the farmers and the consumers in the coming days.

The excessive yield of paddy, wheat and sugarcane, require good amount of water and wet soil. The farmlands are becoming extremely dry following the rise in temperature.
The average temperature of state has increased by 1.8 celsius between 1930 and 1976.

The temperature rise is expected to touch 2.2 celsius by 2030, he stated.
In future, all these dry lands will be unfavourable for the growth of paddy, wheat and sugarcane. While, the millets could be grown even on dry irrigated land.

It would also help preserve water content in the soil. Hence, the Food Security Act of the Union Government should strike a balance between the cereals and millets and encourage mixed cropping among ryots, he added.

The National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi has recommended supply of millets for the common man through PDS system.

Despite, the Union Government and the states is yet to implement providing millets in fair price shops, he regretted and added the centre has allocated ` 300 crore to support millet farmers in budget 2011-12.

Director of Pipal Tree Siddhartha, Govindappa H L, Mahesh and Sunay were present.

Demands

* Encourage millet growers with subsidy.
* Set-up a seed bank to protect millet seeds.
* Distribute millets through PDS shops.
* Make millet-based food or dishes compulsory in government schools, college hostels and Anganwadis.
* Ensure effective implementation of millet schemes.

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