K'taka to brand its ragi in big way, focus on demand creation

K'taka to brand its ragi in big way, focus on demand creation

Joins hands with research institutes, processed food manufacturers

K'taka to brand its ragi in big way, focus on demand creation

 In the first- ever government initiative in the country, the Karnataka government is all set to brand its ragi (finger millet) by tackling the demand side anomalies so that small holder millet farmers of the state benefit from the increasing preference to smart foods.

Announcing the initiative at the headquarters of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) here on Friday, Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said the state government has roped in ICRISAT, Indian Institute of Millet Research (IIMR) and the National Institute of Nutrition for a brainstorming session with stakeholders on the topic, “Popularising Millets Through Product Development and Branding Karnataka Ragi.”

A large group of processed food manufacturers such as MTR, 24 Mantra, Shreshta, Ammae, Manna and suppliers such as BigBasket, attended the meeting.

“Around 70% of the total ragi grown in the country is from Karnataka. Our earlier efforts to increase revenues of small holder farmers was much on the supply side. Now, we have decided to complete the circle by stressing on creating demand for millets,” Gowda said.

He said discussions included possibility of expanding production of top of the line cereals-rich in nutrients such as ragi flakes, cookies and crispies to attract the urban consumer. He demanded that the Union government keep a kilo-to-kilo parity in minimum support price between cereals and millets to make millet farming profitable.

Rs 100-cr business

Stressing the need to re-brand Indian millets, B Dayakar Rao of IIMR said that his organisation is working on increasing shelf life of millets from 10 to 30 days to six months. “In fact, the consumption figures of millets have come down in recent years. However, efforts of Karnataka government have led to a turnaround in productivity of millets in that state,” he said.  He forecast a business of Rs 100 crore from branding and marketing ragi with at least 300 players ready to take part in the initiative. ICRISAT which will be chipping in with its expertise in demand creation for millets has been working with Karnataka through Bhoo Chetana programme.

Economic opportunities

“We have to create economic opportunities for farmers by translating the increased productivity into profitability. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for doubling farm production by 2022. It will only come from transformation of agricultural sector,” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

Krishna Byre Gowda, AGRICULTURE MINISTER: Around 70% of the total ragi grown in the country is from Karnataka. Our earlier efforts to increase revenues of small holder farmers was much on the supply side. Now, we have decided to complete the circle by stressing on creating demand for millets

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