Read full article ByShantha Thiagarajan @ The Times of India Photo Credit:/Thinkstock
The Nilgiris of in the present day could also be identified for tea and English greens, however earlier than it was colonised and the British introduced these the indigenous crop of the area was millets.
To carry again the meals of yore, the horticulture division has taken the initiative to advertise cultivation of millets, which have grow to be extinct within the hills.
Thought-about as a money crop, tea slowly took over a lot of the cultivable lands within the hills for the reason that Nineteen Eighties. Additionally, the custom of consuming millets has been forgotten. Even then, in the course of the late Nineteen Eighties, a substantial extent of about 2,170 hectares of land within the hills was cultivated with varied sorts of millets together with ragi, samai,corn, varagu and samba wheat. At current, the hills account for just for an extent of 68.2 hectares cultivated with millets that too largely ragi. Solely tribals within the hills domesticate millets for their very own want as a part of their custom.
To encourage farmers, district collector J Harmless Divya has despatched a proposal beneath the Particular Space Improvement Programme (SADP) for subsidy to farmers cultivating millets. Millets don’t fall beneath National Horticulture Mission schemes for subsidy advantages.
Because the Nilgiris doesn’t have an agriculture division, the horticulture division has approached the district administration for SADP funds to advertise millet cultivation.
“The goal is to carry again millet cultivation within the Nilgiris. The subsidy is to encourage farmers to change to millet cultivation together with ragi, samai and wheat as they’re nutritious. Millets, as soon as the principle cultivation within the Nilgiris, had seen a dwindling pattern prior to now 4 a long time,” mentioned Shiva Subramaniam Samraj, joint director, horticulture division.
Just a few seminars on ‘promotion of conventional crops’ have been carried out within the hill district by the federal government prior to now years as an effort to make the Nilgiris’ farmers rediscover the significance of millets. Nonetheless, with out subsidy as an encouragement, farmers are hesitant to change to millet cultivation.
Tribals primarily develop samai and ragi together with thinai and corn as intercrops. In line with Shivalingam, a tribal from Mettukal space in Kilkotagiri, tribal folks can’t survive with out their conventional meals which is generally millet. “We’re specific about cultivating ragi and samai primarily for our personal wants. This observe has been persevering with since our ancestral time”.
The tribals inventory the cultivated millets for their very own use and the remainder, if any, is offered via NGOs. Stating that nutritionists emphasise on consuming native produce to derive most vitamins, Samraj mentioned, “A farmer would get ₹15, 000 per hectare of millet cultivation as subsidy as soon as the proposal beneath SADP will get sanctioned”.
The horticulture division is focusing on at the very least 100 hectares of millet cultivation on this monetary 12 months. “So far as Nilgiris is worried we have to eat millets to maintain our physique heat and to provide extra power,” mentioned Shivalingam.