Millet lovers are spoilt for choice at this mela

Millets on display at the Organic and Millets Mela at Government Model Primary School ground, Malleswaram Circle, in Bengaluru on Saturday.  

If quinoa or oats are your diet staples, you should consider switching to locally grown millets. These are no longer limited to the humble ragi mudde and rotti. Millets are now available in various avatars such as ice cream, jamun, cereal, pani puri, pizza, pasta and sohan papdi.

The varieties available at the two-day Organic and Millet Mela, organised by the Department of Agriculture and Jaivik Krishik Society, which started on Saturday, are proof that the Indian diet comprises much more than rice and wheat. Eight of the 14 regional federations of organic farmers’ associations have come together with nearly 200 farmers and 60 stalls that have organic and millet products on sale.

The demand for millet has seen nearly one lakh agriculturists in Karnataka, who were engaged in growing more conventional crops such as paddy until four years ago, start growing millets as well.

“With the demand for millets on the rise, the supply is said to have reduced over the last few years. One solution is to organise as many awareness programmes for farmers as possible to convince them to grow millet. The Agriculture Department has also brought in 1.8 lakh hectares under organic farming with millets, grains, fruits, vegetables and pulses,” said Krishna Byre Gowda, Minister of State for Agriculture.

This fifth edition of the Millet Mela, specially organised in the wake of the ‘National Trade Fair 2017 - Organics & Millets’ to be launched in Bengaluru on April 28, 29 and 30 at Palace Grounds by the Department of Agriculture, will also serve as the venue for people to register for the National Trade Fair.

“Today, Karnataka has nearly 14 lakh hectares of land growing millets. The area is steadily growing with Ragi, Navane, Saame, Baragu, Korle, Hoodalu and Arka. We wanted Karnataka millets to have a better exposure in the national market where a host of dealers and farmers will be taking part,” added Mr. Gowda.

The last three years have seen the department certify 75,000 people as registered organic farmers. “We thought growing millets is as important as going organic. With millets, water consumption is only 20% or lesser compared to growing paddy that requires nearly 5,000 litres of water to grow just 1 kg of rice! Millets are not only power-packed with nutrients, but consume just one-fourth of water and soil nutrients when compared to paddy. They require only two rainfalls in the sowing and flowering stages. They are, by default, largely organic, and their maximum fodder value suits our parched soil conditions. Also, they don’t require pest sprays as are frequently required for rice,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 9:05:20 AM |

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