Considering the increase in the cultivation of millets, the Centre may soon announce a benchmark price for minor millets produced in various States. The Centre said it would help States to procure and distribute millets through the public distribution system. At present, millets such as jowar, bajra and ragi are procured by nine States with a minimum support price (MSP) announced by the Centre. Minor millets are not procured at the moment.
Additional Secretary in the Food Ministry Subodh Kumar Singh said procurement of millets with MSP was increasing. “Agriculture and Food Ministries are working together to fix a benchmark price for the minor millets. We want the production of minor millets to increase. If the benchmark price is assured, we hope their production will increase,” Mr. Singh said.
He said the Centre had taken steps to sell millets along with foodgrains through fair price shops. “It will be decided by the States according to the demand and procurement,” Mr. Singh said, adding that the shelf life of millets was less and that was why the Centre was requesting States to directly procure and sell millets through the PDS. “It will help small and marginal farmers who are cultivating millets. It will be beneficial for the people of respective States considering the nutritional quality of millets,” he added.
The procurement and distribution of millets of the last kharif season is under way. “Several States have come forward to procure and distribute millets. For example, procurement of ragi in Karnataka has been very good. The State has procured 5 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of ragi and will distribute it along with the foodgrains. The market price is less than MSP in millets like ragi. We are providing financial assistance to States for procurement and distribution of millets and coarse grains,” he said. Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu are buying and distributing millets at the moment. “We have requested Rajasthan to procure bajra and distribute it through the PDS,” he said.
In 2021-22, the nine States had procured 6.5 LMT millets. “In 2022-23, as of now, Karnataka alone has decided to procure 7 LMT of millets. Overall, 7.5 LMT has been procured in the country. Our target is to increase the production of millets in the future,” he added.