Millets, answer to tackle malnutrition, climate change- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: With focus shifting to nutrition in food and nutrient-rich millets becoming a favourite food to fight malnutrition, agricultural experts and officials lauded the Millet Mission undertaken by the State Government to promote production, consumption and marketing of the grains.
Inaugurating a national workshop on nutri-cereals here on Wednesday, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said Odisha is the first State to introduce millets in public distribution system and Niti Aayog has recognised it as a model State in this regard. The Odisha Millet Mission, launched in 2017, has now been extended to 72 blocks in 14 tribal-dominated districts. The National Millet Mission started in 2018 has given further boost to the campaign in the State.

“Odisha Millet Mission is a unique initiative for revival and promotion of millet production. The Centre has recommended other states to follow the Odisha model,” said Pradeepta Kumar Mohapatra, Agriculture Production Commissioner.

Principal Secretary Agriculture & Farmers’ Empowerment Sourabh Garg said the Odisha Millet Mission is a unique partnership model wherein the Government, academia and civil society have joined together to implement the programmes through farmer producer organisations. “It is built on a comprehensive approach that includes production, processing, consumption, value addition and marketing,” he said. Around 50,000 farmers have been mobilised to take up millet cultivation with improved agronomic practices. The State Government has already started procurement of surplus millet from the farmers and procurement target has been enhanced to one lakh tonne. Plans are afoot for inclusion of millets in supplementary nutrition programmes under ICDS, MDM and PDS, Garg added. 

Director, Country Relations of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Arabinda Kumar Padhi said millets are climate resilient crops and can be grown under stressed rain-fed conditions and people of South and West Odisha have traditional skills in millet production undertaken over generations. “The highlands of the State have vast scope for millet cultivation as well. ICRISAT would provide the technology and international best practices for improving productivity in the State,” said Padhi. 

In the workshop, deliberations were held on promotion of seed diversity, policy initiatives, challenges in inclusion of millet in PDS, millet marketing and value chain through framers organisations. There was also experience sharing sessions among farmers and NGOs on agronomic practices. 
On the occasion, 14 leading millet farmers of the State along with representatives of leading NGOs namely Pragati and Pradhan were awarded.

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