The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has urged the district administration to organise a millet festival in Madurai to propagate the consumption of millet.

R. Shankar Narayan, Assistant General Manager, Nabard, made the request at a workshop on ‘Millet production and value addition’ held at Sedapatti recently.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Shankar Narayan said that organising the festival will help raise awareness of the nutritional value of millet.“After the ‘Maa Madurai Potruvom’ festival held recently, ‘Sungudi’ cotton sarees have caught the fancy of women. Creating a wave of interest in millet will have a positive effect on the health of the people,” he said.

“Hotels can be involved in the festival to promote millet. A food festival could be organised on the occasion,” Mr. Narayan suggested. According to him, Tamil Nadu is one of the very few states in India that produce minor millet, which is cultivated in T. Kallupatti, Sedapatti, Tirumangalam and Usilampatti regions in Madurai district. But the area under cultivation has shrunk to a considerable extent over the years, he said. Raising public awareness will result in increased demand for minor millet and induce the farmers to cultivate more of the crop, he added.

Addressing the self-help group (SHG) members and villagers at the workshop, Collector Anshul Mishra spoke on the need to increase awareness on the health benefits of millet.

The Collector inaugurated a watershed project launched by Nabard at Kalappanpatti. According to Mr. Narayan, the project cost was Rs. 128.35 lakh. Nabard granted 50 per cent assistance and the State funded the remainder.

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