Organic and Minor Millet Mela, a farmer-consumer festival organised by the Department of Agriculture at the district training centre here on Saturday, became a platform for farmers to pour out the difficulties being faced by organic growers who cultivate millet to Minister for Medical Education Sharanprakash Patil and other officials.
After inaugurating the event and unveiling the exhibition stalls, about an hour behind the schedule, the Minister briefly spoke on the health benefits of millet consumption. He said that he did not think that agricultural universities and the Agriculture Department knew more about agriculture than farmers. Dr. Patil soon vacated the podium to give more time for farmers to share their experience.
Using the opportunity, farmers, one after the other, began pouring out their problems in the organic cultivation of millets and urged the Minister to address the issues on a priority basis.
“The government takes more interest in organising such events for encouraging farmers and consumers to take up organic millet farming and consumption. But, it seldom thinks of addressing the problems being faced by the farmers,” a farmer said.
Annarao Sangamakar, a farmer from Baddal village, said that farmers would not need any subsidies or financial assistance if they were provided with sufficient power. “We don’t want your subsidies or any other financial assistance. Give us sufficient power to run our groundwater based irrigation pump-sets. If you cannot provide power for 15 hours a day, provide us solar-powered pumpsets. We will undertake organic millet farming and reap huge profits,” he said. When a farmer was raising the issue of increased cost of cultivation of minor millets and inadequate prices for the produce in the market, a trader from the audience offered Rs. 3,000 a quintal of foxtail millet. Enraged by the offer, the farmer lashed at him by stating that traders would purchase at Rs. 3,000 a quintal from farmers and sell at Rs. 9,000 a quintal to consumers.
All the farmers who spoke invariably emphasised the insufficient and improper power supply to their irrigation pumpsets and demanded for solar-powered irrigation pumpsets at subsidised rates. The authorities had put up around 75 stalls where organic farming inputs such as organic fertilizer and pesticides, farm machineries, newer crop varieties, Ayurvedic and Unani medicines, varieties of organic minor millets and other produces were put on display. The two-day event will conclude on Sunday.Staff Reporter