Owing to the absence of suitable primary processing, semi processed raw materials and appropriate value addition technologies, the production and processing of small millets remains constrained.

Difficult work

Dehulling (removal of husk) millets is a difficult task owing to its small size and husk. Without husk removal, it is impossible to explore the full potential of the grains.

Traditionally, women do this unpleasant, laborious and inefficient hard work. Manually a woman with a pestle and mortar can dehull about 1.5 kg per hour providing a non-uniform poor keeping quality kernel.

The dry, moistened or wet millet grain is normally pounded with a wooden pestle in a wooden or stone mortar for making flour which is slightly wet due to moisture.

Aiming to eliminate this drudgery the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering (CIAE, ICAR), Bhopal has developed a machine for millet processing. The machine has a capacity of grinding 100 kg in an hour at 10-12 per cent moisture content. It operates with one horse power single phase electric motor and can process even one kg of grains. The separation of the husk is simultaneous with a suction arrangement and cyclone separator attached to the machine.

It is suitable for dehulling foxtail, little, kodo, proso and barnyard millets and is provided with provisions to adjust between the dehulling surfaces to suit the different sizes of minor grains.

Efficiency

The dehulling efficiency of the machine is about 95 per cent and is priced at Rs. 50,000. It is eco-friendly, because it does not allow the dehulling husk mass to escape into the air directly and is gently trapped and collected. While being operated the noise pollution is kept under control unlike other hulling machines that produce a lot of sound. It does not require any hard labour and is worker-friendly.

(Dr. S. Balasubramanian, Principal Scientist, CIAE-Regional Centre-IEP, Coimbatore-3, Tamil Nadu, E-mail: balaciphet@gmail.com, Mobile: 8681017811.)