P. Ramasamy, a farmer, points to tall stocks of barnyard millet ( kuthiraivaali) crop on his land of 150 acres and says the yield is good this year. Like him, several others in Kottampatti block’s Pottapatti village and surrounding areas have produced large amounts of small millets this year owing to bountiful rains.
Over 2,500 acres of land in Kottampatti block have come under the plough to produce ragi, pearl millet (ka mbu), maize, little millet (saamai) and Koda millet ( varagu) . Farmers from Soorapatti, Pottapatti, Thondalingapuram, Chokkampatti, Lakadipatti and Pallapatti have been raising millet crops for the last five years. Mr. Ramasamy, the Chairman of Alagarmalayan Millet and Other Crops Producing Company, says it is possible to have a harvest of millets because of the little investment that goes into millet production. With good monsoon, however, the production has doubled, he says.
“In Pottapatti, a rain-fed region, farmers for the last five years, had restricted the cultivation of banana and paddy crops due to inadequate water supply,” Mr. Ramasamy says. At that time, millet production was the only activity that sustained them. With expertise from non governmental organisations such as Dhan Foundation, farmers have been able to ensure sustained cultivation of small millets even when monsoons failed during consecutive years.
With growing interest from foreign countries in consuming millets, Mr. Ramasamy says he his mulling value addition and better packaging. “We have eaten millets all our lives. The process of cleaning the grain is hardly a task. However, we have to take the sacks of grain to Karungalakudi, about 12 km from here, for milling,” he says.
P. Madasamy, his brother, says that if equipment for value addition are located in and around Pottapatti and Soorapatti, farmers, with guidance from agriculture officials, would produce export quality products.
P. Vijayalakshmi, Deputy Director, Agricultural Marketing Department, says though the yield is good for millets in Pottapatti and surrounding villages, this area is renowned for groundnuts. “We have asked the farmers to produce groundnut cakes and sell them at Karungalakudi. Machines worth ₹10 lakh have been set up for it,” she said.