Read full article by S Srividhya@ Telangana Today   Photo Credit: Telangana Today

Millets are regarded as heritage crops owing to their cultivation and use as a staple food since ancient times in several parts of the world, especially India. They are being cultivated on varying scales in various parts of the country, mainly by tribal and marginal farmers. But sadly, their place in the Indian food system vanished after the green revolution when cereals like rice and wheat took over. Since then, their area under cultivation and productivity significantly declined to an extent that their inclusion as part of the daily diet has almost become negligible.

The area under millets cultivation declined more than 50% over the last six decades from 1949-50 to 2017-18. Production of small millet too showed the same trend. The major decline was among small millets (more than 85%), followed by sorghum (over 65%), finger millet (over 30%) and pearl millet (over 18%).The minimum support price (MSP) for millets remains huge with the cost ranging from Rs 80 to Rs 150 per kg of seeds. Data shows that there has always been an increasing trend with respect to the selling price of these millets. Though productivity has increased over the decades, over 50% of the area of cultivation has been replaced post green revolution (based on estimates data from the Directorate of Economics and Statistics).

Regaining Importance

There is considerable knowledge of these millets among traditional communities but the existing generation is less aware of the super grains. However, initiatives undertaken by various scientific institutions and societies to create awareness of millet crops and their super health benefits are gradually helping them gain back their lost importance. Statistics from 2018-21 show a significant increase in area, production and productivity of these nutri-grains as a result of various incentivising efforts for the cultivation of millets.

Millets include sorghum (Jowar, Jonna), Pearl millet (Bajra, Sajja), Finger millet (Ragi, Ragi chodi), Little millet (Kutki, Samalu), Foxtail millet (Kakum, Korra), Barnyard millet (Sanwa, Udalu/Kodisama), Proso millet (Chena, Variga), Kodo millet (Kodon, Arikelu) and two Pseudo millets (Black-wheat (Kuttu) and Ameranthus (Chaulai). Though these are coarse grains mainly cultivated under dryland ecosystem with less water and meagre inputs in comparison with high water input-demanding crops like rice and water, they are loaded with immense health benefits (gluten-free, rich in iron, calcium, fibre, protein and other vitamins/minerals, and low glycemic index).


Posted on

April 25, 2022

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