- 2018 was observed as the ‘National Year of Millets” and The UN General Assembly adopted an India-sponsored resolution to mark 2023 as the “International Year of Millets”.
- Millets are also known as nutria-cereals.
- Sorghum (Jowar)
- Pearl Millet (Bajra)
- Finger Millet (Ragi)
Temperature: Generally, the Millets are grown in tropical as well as sub-tropical up to an altitude of 2,100m. It is a heat loving plant and for its germination the minimum temperature required is 8- 10°c. A mean temperature range of 26-29°c during the growth is best for proper development and good crop yield.
Rainfall: Sorghum grows in 450 – 650 mm rainfall. Kodo Millet has a heavy water requirement which grows well in moderate rainfall of 50-60cm. Finger millet grows in 40-45cm rainfall.
Soil : Millet has wide adaptability to different soil from very poor to very fertile and can tolerate a certain degree of alkalinity. The best soils are alluvial, loamy and sandy soil with good drainage.
Topography: Kodo millet can be grown in gravelly and stony soil such as in the hilly region.
Field preparation: The first ploughing should be done deep with a soil turning plough at the onset of monsoon. Fine tilth is imperative for proper germination and crop establishment.
PROPERTIES AND ASSOCIATED BENEFITS
- Can withstand high Temperature and long period of drought.
- Poor soils and difficult terrain also support millet.
- Can grow in sub topical and tropical areas with low or seasonal rainfall. Less than 76 cm or as dry crop in rotation.
- Millets are anti acidic; gluten free; Helps to prevent type 2 diabetes; Effective in reducing blood pressure; Reduces risk of gastrointestinal conditions like gastric ulcers or colon cancer; Eliminate problems like constipation, excess gas, bloating and cramping; Millet act as a probiotic feeding micro flora in our inner ecosystem.
- It will also be critical for climate change measures in drylands and important for smallholder and marginal farmers.
- Bioethanol can be created using sorghum (jowar) and pearl millet (bajra), and that this fuel could bring down carbon emissions by about half.
- United Nations has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets and preparations are being made to celebrate the International Year of Millets at the global level.
- India, Nigeria and China are the largest producers of millets in the world, accounting for more than 55% of the global production. For many years, India was a major producer of millets. However, in recent years, millet production has increased dramatically in Africa.
- Major producers in India include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, U.P and Haryana.
Why is India slow in adopting millet-based products?
The average annual growth of millet consumption in India from 1999 to 2016 was only 4.56 %. The highest rise in domestic millet consumption in India was noticed in the years 2002-2003, in which the growth rate reported was about 115.15%. Year by year, the growth rate of millet consumption is declining by the country to an extremely low growth rate of 8.33% in the years 2019-2020.
For all millets there is a dramatic decrease in cultivated area. Dramatic also is the decrease in total production of small millets – 76%.
- General perception is that the millets are increasingly seen as “poor person’s food”. Therefore, it is necessary to re-brand coarse cereals/millets as nutri-cereals and promote their production and consumption.
- Historical policy neglect of these crops.
- Lower or near absence of production support when compared to the support enjoyed by other crops.
- Near lack of reach of improved methods of production and technologies
- Lack of appropriate post-harvest processing technologies for small millets except finger millet
- Competition from other market friendly remunerative crops
- Changes in preference patterns in consumption moving away from them (Sanskritization), mainly due to inclusion of only rice and wheat into the Public Distribution System (PDS)
- Absence of public or private funded promotion of millets as a nutritious food category.
Government steps taken in this regard:
- Integrated Cereals Development Programs in Coarse Cereals ICDP-CC based Cropping Systems Areas under Macro Management of Agriculture -MMA.
- Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion – INSIMP a part of Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana” – RKVY which is the only comprehensive initiative to support millet production.
- Rainfed Area Development Program – RADP: a component of the Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – RKVY.
- Additional areas should be brought under millets which will significantly increase the cropping intensity in dryland agriculture and contribute to higher output and farm revenues.
- Use post-kharif fallow lands with residual soil moisture in high rainfall regions like central and eastern Indian states.
- Promote millet based intercropping systems.
- MGNREGA funds can be used to develop common wastelands into cultivable lands, and an integrated and target oriented strategy may be drawn up for this purpose.
- Establishment of primary processing facilities at the farm gate/village level; hence, primary processing units should be included under the National Food security Mission (NFSM) and agriculture machinery schemes of the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Advocate and promote awareness about nutri-cereals among consumers across the country to create demand.
- Millets like sorghum are a good fodder source; as a result, integration of nutri-rich millet fodder with existing millet supply chain models in beneficial to contribute to enhanced farmers’ income.
Read also about: