Bengaluru

Area under millet cultivation has seen a decline in State

About 40% of the area that was under millet cultivation has been taken over by horticultural crops, according to H. Shivanna, Vice-Chancellor, UAS, Bengaluru.

About 40% of the area that was under millet cultivation has been taken over by horticultural crops, according to H. Shivanna, Vice-Chancellor, UAS, Bengaluru.  

‘Karnataka is on a millet-popularising drive’

Despite an increasing demand for millets from health-conscious urban dwellers, the area under millet cultivation in the State has declined by around 2.5 lakh hectares in the last decade. In India, the acreage under millets cultivation has reduced to 0.2 % from 0.4 % of the total cultivable land of 142 million hectares.

“Karnataka has over the last 10 years lost nearly 2.5 lakh hectares of millet growing fields to acacia and neem as cost of production here works out cheaper on dryland cultivation,” said H. Shivanna, Vice-Chancellor, University Of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, at the annual group meeting of the All-India Co-ordinated Project on Small Millets here on Friday. “About 40% of the area that was under millet cultivation has been taken over by horticultural crops,” he said. According to him, Karnataka is now left with approximately 9.5 lakh hectares under millet cultivation.

Two-day meet

Nearly 100 agricultural scientists from all over India working on small millets had gathered, in association with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), for a two-day exchange of their latest research. “Our objectives are to share strategies to enhance millet production and bring in value addition to the crop,” said Dr. Shivanna. While millets are part of dryland agriculture that is dependant on seasonal rainfall, the cost of cultivation and surety of improved good yield are the only reasons for farmers to stick to millet-growing, experts said. “Only 30% of our research is seen on fields, 70% remains in the lab. The government has to intervene to take our study directly to farmers so that cultivation of high-yielding varieties of millets as little millet, kodo millet, pearl millet, proso millet and fox-tail millet are taken up,” added Dr. Shivanna.

Ragi was researched so as to multiply its varieties. Research undertaken by Ragi Lakshmanaiah from Zonal Agricultural Research Station of Mandya later yielded nearly 40 varieties of Indo-African high-yielding cross varieties of ragi. This has to be replicated for other millets, said A. Seetharam, former project co-ordinator, ICAR, Bengaluru.

While millets are cultivated mainly in South India, parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya started production 10 years ago. “Karnataka is on a millet-popularising drive focused on the nutritive value of the grain. The government, in association with ICRISAT Hyderabad, and Agricultural universities like Bengaluru, Dharwad and Raichur, has developed drought-resistant high-yielding varieties of millets. We are distributing 5 kg of ragi to BPL cardholders in southern Karnataka and 5 kg of sorgham to north Karnataka BPL card holders,” said T.N. Prakash, chairman, Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission.

Dr. Prabhakar, project co-ordinator of Small Millets at GKVK said, “After two days of scientist-interactions, it has been decided to take up frontline demonstration on field. Research on other millets will also be taken up on priority, akin to ragi, especially to improve on grain size.”

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 4:13:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/area-under-millet-cultivation-has-seen-a-decline-in-state/article18065033.ece

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