Small grains, big benefits

From here & there

Small grains, big benefits
At a time when the prolonged dry spell has become a major worry in the State, a few farmers in Gopalanahalli village of Tumakuru district are trying to withstand drought by cultivating millets.

As nature’s vagaries started affecting agriculture, youth of the village sat with elders and discussed the necessity of growing and consuming millets. Consequently, they have been growing kodo millet (haraka) since 2010. Initially, only two farmers came forward, and gradually others joined. “We have realised that the crop is good for the environment and caters to the needs of humans and animals,” said millet grower G S Raghu.

Kodo millet growers of the village have formed an association to popularise different varieties of millets. The crop needs little water (300-350 mm rainfall is sufficient) and is stress tolerant. Though kodo cultivation is relatively simple, processing the harvest posed a problem initially, as the traditional manual method of dehusking was not feasible anymore.

They then used finger millet mills to process this millet and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, has now designed a machine for the purpose. They have been distributing a major part of the harvest as seeds to interested farmers. “Let people benefit from this unique crop,” said Mamatha, another farmer. They have been selling seeds at Rs 50 per kg and marketing millet rice and seeds directly to consumers at agriculture fairs and other melas. Kodo millet, which is used in many preparations, is known for its nutritional and medicinal benefits.

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