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In a bid to boost millet farming in Bargarh, the administration had decided to open multiple outlets of the produce in different blocks of the district by November. Chief district agriculture officer (CDAO) Dinabandhu Gandhi said the objective is to further increase production of millet by providing value addition facilities and market linkage.
This will also help in promoting consumptions of millet-based food and addressing the nutritional issues of people in rural areas. Currently, several varieties of millets are being cultivated in Paikmal, Padampur, Bijepur, Gaisilet and Jharbandh blocks of Bargarh. In the first phase, the outlets will be set up in these five blocks by Odisha Millet Mission (OMM) and Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM).
Gandhi said around 3,000 farmers are engaged in millet farming in the five blocks. Some of the popular varieties grown here are ragi, gurji and kudo. Millet farmers are being provided an assistance of `5,000 per hectare from the Agriculture department.
Farmer Siba Prasad Sahu said people are not aware of the health benefits of millets. “Through the outlets, we can reach out to people in the rural belt and Bargarh town in the later phase and promote consumption of millets,” said Sahu, also a member of Ahimsa club which has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the outlets in Paikmal block.
In Paikmal, millet is being cultivated in 1,275 acre of land across 67 villages. This season, ragi is being grown over 1,000 acre. Sahu said the MSP for a quintal of ragi is `3,295. Farmers can avail a number of facilities for processing millets from the OMM.
Deputy CEO of Odisha Rural Development And Marketing Society (ORMAS), Bargarh Raj Gopal Dash said, “There is immense potential of value addition in small millets like ragi. It can be processed into biscuits and a variety of snacks. Besides, value addition of other millets can be done through processing, packaging and branding. Many farmers are already showing interest in millet farming.”
Currently, over 2,000 hectare have standing crops of ragi, kudo and a few other varieties in Bargarh. While these crops will be harvested by October end, the millet outlets will be set-up around first week of November. Initially five to ten kiosks will be set up in the selected blocks. Besides, a mobile van outlet will also move around different blocks of the district.