The district administration and farmers’ associations will take up a pilot project here to promote the use of minor millets.
Farmers will be trained in their cultivation, storage, and sale, and farmwomen and self-help groups in the use of millets in their daily diet. The millets will also be served in anganwadi centres.
Besides, extension officers of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) will promote cultivation of micro grain by training farmers and by setting up demonstration farms.
Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer said it was the members of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha who came up with the idea.
Millets would be introduced on an experimental basis in anganwadi centres, where some villages would act as control groups and some as conditioned groups.
“We will study its effect on malnourished children here and extend the programme if it is beneficial, he said.
“This would address malnutrition and benefit farmers by reducing the cost of cultivation and providing an assured market for these grain. Importantly, it would pave the way for conserving traditional crop varieties,” Dr. Jaffer said.
The KVK will get Rs. 10-lakh grant for promoting cultivation of crops such as sajje, navane, save and ragi, among others.
Resource persons from the Zaheerabad-based Deccan Development Society (DDS) will help the district administration in the project. The DDS has been promoting millets for nearly three decades.
They have succeeded in forming women’s groups that save native seeds, store grain and prepare processed food prepared from these grains. It also runs the Café Ethnic, a restaurant in Zaheerabad, that uses only millets.
Founder of DDS, P.V. Sateesh, held consultations with officials and farmers in the district. The society has offered to train SHG members in preparing food items from millets that could be supplied to anganwadis. “Seed companies are slowly enslaving farmers. If we have to come out of their clutches, we have to look for such innovative interventions,” Veerabhushan Nandagave, KRRS leader, said.
First, the names of farmers who had been growing millets would be listed out. Then, more farmers would be motivated to take to millets.
“We will also organise field trips to millet farms and to the DDS office in Zaheerabad,” Mr. Nandagave added.
Extension officers of Krishi Vigyan Kendra to promote cultivation of micro grain by training farmers
Farmwomen and self-help groups will be made to use millets in their daily diet