Andhra Pradesh

Agri scientist advocates inclusion of millet in PDS

All-India Pearl Millets Research Project coordinator Chellapilla Tara Satyavathi inspecting the millets repository inaugurated at Rekulakunta in Anantapur district on Sunday.

All-India Pearl Millets Research Project coordinator Chellapilla Tara Satyavathi inspecting the millets repository inaugurated at Rekulakunta in Anantapur district on Sunday. | Photo Credit: R.V.S. PRASAD

Making a strong pitch for inclusion of millets in the daily diet of the population for their nutritional value and other health benefits, All India Pearl Millet Research Project coordinator Chellapilla Tara Satyavathi has opined that the Central and State governments should make millets a component in the Public Distribution System (PDS), while incentivising farmers to grow nutri-cereals at the same time.

Ms. Satyavathi from the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur, who supervises the works done on millets at agriculture research stations across the country, inaugurated a Germplasm and Seed Cold Repository at the Agriculture Research Station at Rekulakuntla in Anantapur district on Sunday.

Accompanied by Principal Scientist B. Sahadeva Reddy and pearl millet researcher Chandra Reddy, Ms. Satyavathi inspected the research farm where fortified pearl millets, popularly known as bajra, are being grown. With the largest quantum of millets grown in a single district being Anantapur, the ICAR-All India Coordinated Research Project on Arid Zone Pearl Millets has been continuing here since 1972.  

Giving details about pearl millet cultivation, Ms. Satyavathi said of the millet acreage of 13 million hectares in the country, pearl millet is grown in 7.41 million hectares. The productivity of the crop has gone up from 1200 kg per hectare to 1,370 kg per hectare since 2016. “The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the crop has gone up from ₹1,300 per quintal to ₹2,250 per quintal. However, the farmers are being offered much less than this by private buyers. This exploitation should stop,” Ms. Satyavathi told The Hindu

Nutritional value

Referring to the nutritional value of the crop, Ms. Satyavathi said pearl millet variety ABV04 Bajra or Sajjalu, released from Anantapur, is among the most nutritious diet as it contains 70 ppm of iron and 60 ppm of zinc, useful lipids, and fatty acid. The minimum values of iron (42 ppm) and zinc (32 ppm) have been set nationally for any bajra variety grown. “It is also useful for those suffering from hypertension and diabetes,” she pointed out.

Roti, khichdi, ambali, puffs, and flakes prepared from millets are some of the popular off-the-shelf products available. Broken bajra granules can be used for making idly in place of rice.

International Year of Millets

As 2023 has been declared as the International Year of Millets, she said, there is a focus on promoting millets as healthy, nutritious and balanced diet. “Eight Ministries at the Centre are pursuing the task of taking millets closer to people. Adding millets to the mid-day meal menu is the next step. It can also be given to lactating mothers and adolescent girls through anganwadi centres.

“Pearl millet retains its alkaline nature even after cooking. Availability of Omega 3 and 5 acids makes it the best food for adults too. As part of the Millet Mission cuisines made by famed chefs are being served at conferences and coffee table books are being produced. The health-conscious upper-middle-class is rooting for this healthy balanced diet. But the need of the hour is to make the benefits of millets reach the masses,” she said.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2022 11:53:21 am |