‘Humble Millets: Hope for Future’: Brainstorming at ‘Krushi Odisha 2023’
The Govt of Odisha has launched a string of initiatives to revive millets in farms and plates, Principal Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Dr. Arabinda Kumar Padhee said.
Addressing as the chief guest at a seminar titled ‘Humble Millets: Hope for Future’, Dr, Padhee said, “The year 2023 is being celebrated as the International Year of Millets. Through the Odisha Millets Mission (OLM), we have undertaken a plethora of activities to revive millets in farms and plates. Thereby, we are trying to create large consumer awareness, so that the consumer adopts the nutritious and healthy millet crop in their diet.”
Dr. Padhee also enumerated the health benefits of climate-resilient millets and appealed people to add these multi-grains in their diet.
The seminar was organised on the sidelines of the State’s flagship mega annual Agri Expo cum Knowledge Event, ‘Krushi Odisha 2023’, recently. International experts, resource persons, farmers and members of women self-help groups participated in the seminar where agronomists presented their views on the ways to cultivate millets at homes and achieve growth in the production of the crop in the State.
“Before the launch of the OMM in 2017, Odisha was producing only 6 quintals of millets per hectare. At present, the volume has increased to 15 quintals. Moreover, the crop is now being exported from Odisha to countries in the Middle East,” said Dr Konda Reddy, Officer -in- Charge of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN’s FAO).
Elizabeth Faure, Country Director, World Food Programme (WFP) India, spoke about the ‘Mapping and Exchange of Good Practices’ initiative to increase the production and consumption of millets. She appreciated the Government of Odisha for pioneering the OMM in 2017, even before the UN in 2018 announced to observe 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets’.
According to Dr CV Ratnavathi, Director, ICAR-IIMR, Ragi (Millets) production and consumption in Odisha is catching up swiftly. She praised Odisha for the transformation: from a rice-producing state to millet producing state, and pledged to extend all technical support to the state. “In order to support millet start-ups, ICAR-IIMR has created a training programme. As part of this initiative, millet entrepreneurs receive funding up to Rs 5 lakh,” she informed.
Dr Ulac Demirag, Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), while proposing the vote of thanks, stated that millets is one of the key solutions to challenges like malnutrition and climate change. “The event concludes with a hope to make Odisha realise its vision of becoming a globally recognised agricultural state,” he said.
The entire seminar was interpreted in real time from English to Odia so as to facilitate local farmers and participating members of the public to understand the address by foreign speakers over individual head phones.
It is worth mentioning here that the Government of Odisha had launched the OMM in 2017 with the objective of popularising the cultivation of millet and allied cereals with a view to enhance farmers’ livelihood and promote healthy alternative in people’s daily consumption. The OMM has received wide recognition in the country and globally over the years.
In fact, Odisha became the first state in India to dedicate a day, i.e November 10, to the super food, which is now celebrated as Mandia (Millets) Diwas every year. Moreover, the Niti Aayog has heaped praises on Odisha for launching modern initiatives of millets’ promotion and asked other states in the country to follow the Odisha model.
The state government has undertaken innovative initiatives to strengthen the OMM, like: tying-up with startups, farmers’ sensitization, creating a sustainable environment for investors and conducting massive consumer awareness drives on millets consumption.