Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel recently said that the state will become the millet hub of the country in the coming times. He said that "Millet Mission" initiative is aimed at giving the farmers right price for small cereal crops, provide input assistance, procurement arrangements, processing and ensure that the farmers get benefit of the expertise of experts. "Like minor forest produce, we want to make small grain crops also the strength of Chhattisgarh," said Baghel at an event organised for signing of MoU between Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad and the collectors of 14 Chhattisgarh districts under "Millet Mission" of the state.
The districts are Kanker, Kondagaon, Bastar, Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma, Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon, Kawardha, Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi,Balrampur, Koriya, Surajpur and Jashpur. Under the MoU, the Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad will provide support and guidance for increasing the productivity of Kodo, Kutki and Ragi, technical know-how, availability of high quality seeds and establishment of seed bank in Chhattisgarh. Apart from this, arrangements will be made for training the farmers of Chhattisgarh through Krishi Vigyan Kendra for spreading the scientific technology developed at the national level related to millet production by IIMR Hyderabad at the field level.
In view of the increasing demand for millets like Kodo, Kutki and Ragi in the country and abroad, the Millet Mission will not only increase the income of the farmers of Vananchal and tribal areas, but will also give a new identity to Chhattisgarh. At the same time, the processing and value addition of millets will also provide employment to farmers, women's groups and youth. Kodo, Kutki, Ragi are produced in 20 districts of Chhattisgarh. In the first phase, MoUs were signed with 14 of these districts.
Baghel said cereal crops like Kodo, Kutki and Ragi are mostly sown in our forest areas. "Crops like Kodo, Kutki and Ragi are rich in nutrition. There is a good demand for these in the country. These are sold at very good prices in urban areas. But Kodo, Kutki and Ragi grown in Chhattisgarh have not been able to come out of Vananchal. Till now, neither the support price of these crops was fixed, nor was there any arrangement for its purchase. Even after producing such an important and valuable crop, the farmers who grew it remained poor," Baghel added.
The Chief Minister said that the State Government has now started "Mission Millet" to increase the yield of these crops, ensure good procurement arrangements and take them to the city markets after processing. Along with fixing the support price of Kodo, Kutki and Ragi, the state government has also included these under the purview of Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana. With this, now the farmers growing these small cereal crops will also be able to get input assistance like other farmers.
Baghel said that the purchase of minor cereal crops would be done through the Van Dhan societies of Chhattisgarh Minor Forest Produce Co-operative Federation. After processing these crops, it will be used in schemes like mid-day meal, public distribution system and nutrition program. With this, arrangements will be ensured to take the finished products to the markets of the metropolitan cities. He said that under Millet Mission, farmers growing Kodo-Kutki and Ragi crops would be given an input assistance of Rs 9,000 per acre and Rs 10,000 per acre for growing these crops instead of paddy.
IIMR Director Vilas A. Tonapi said that in the present times, there is a need to increase food diversity in our diet to address the problem of life style diseases and malnutrition. The Millet Mission starting in Chhattisgarh will prove to be a milestone in this direction, said Tonapi. He said that it is a good initiative by the state government to provide input assistance to the farmers engaged in millet production in the state of Chhattisgarh. He said that the year 2023 will be celebrated as the International Year of Millet. Through the Millet Mission, Chhattisgarh will be successful in making a mark as a millet Hub in the country by the year 2023.