Boost to millets' production in Agency

By TheHindu on 11 Mar 2017 | read

The Centre under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) has allotted Rs.300 crore for implementation of a special project aimed at ensuring nutritional security to people, particularly the economically weaker sections, by promoting intensive millets production and improving the post harvest technologies in millets covering jowar, bajra, ragi, korra and samai.

Under the special project, ragi and samai cultivation has been intensified in 17 clusters in the Agency mandals of Araku Valley, Anantagiri, Dumbriguda, Hukumpeta, Paderu, G. Madugula, Munchingput, Pedabayalu, G.K. Veedhi, and Chintapalle on nearly 5,000 hectares - ragi in 2,500 hectares and samai in 2,400 hectares. Deputy Director of Agriculture K. Venugopal Rao told The Hindu that the special millets production project, which was aimed at encouraging the general public, particularly economically poorer sections, to consume nutritional food, was implemented in the 2011-12 financial year in 5,000 hectares in the Agency areas. Millets, including ragi and samai, production got a big boost in the district as they have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land-care. .

Millets are unique due to their short growing season. They can develop from planted seeds to mature, ready to harvest plants in as little as 65 days. This is important in heavily populated areas. When properly stored they can be preserved for two or more years. Ragi and samai are not acid forming foods and hence they are soothing and easy to digest. They are considered to be the least allergic and most digestible grains available. Compared to rice, especially polished rice, millets release lesser percentage of glucose. This lowers the risk of diabetes being high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. It is also richest in calcium content, about 10 times that of rice or wheat.

Unlike rice and wheat that require many inputs in terms of soil fertility and water, millets grow well in dry regions as rain-fed crop. Once harvested, the seeds keep extremely well and are seldom attacked by insects or moulds. The long storage capacity makes finger millet an important crop in risk avoidance strategies. The project, includes supply of technology demonstration kits of critical inputs of nutrients and plant protection measures comprising micro-nutrients, fungicides, and bio-fertilizers, DAP, urea, potash, and pesticides including weeding machines at a cost of Rs.3,000 per ha for sorghum, pearl millet, and finger millet and Rs.2,000 per ha for small millets would be supplied to all the farmers in the units.