Odisha to offer millet in public distribution system

Bid to promote the nutritious grain and give a push to the tribal economy

June 11, 2019 11:09 am | Updated 11:09 am IST

BHUBANESWAR: In a bid to promote nutritious millet and give a push to the tribal economy, the Odisha government has decided to offer one kilogram ragi (millet) at ₹1 per kg per card holder through the public distribution system.

The issue of procurement and distribution of millet was discussed threadbare in the Odisha Millet Mission under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi here on Monday.

Mr. Padhi directed to pilot the ragi distribution in seven districts — Gajpati, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada and Rayagada — from the month of July. The card holders in Malkangiri district, where millet consumption is widespread, will be supplied 2 kg of ragi.

“Around 17,500 quintals of ragi would be distributed to the card holders. The future of the programme will depend on the acceptability of the people and impact of the pilot,” State Agriculture Secretary Sourav Garg said.

The State government proposed to procure around one lakh quintals of ragi from farmers in the coming kharif season at a minimum support price of ₹2897 per quintal. Tribals are the principal producers of millets in the State.

In the kharif season of 2018, a total number of 24,499 farmers were registered and verified for procurement of ragi. Only 6622 farmers had sold their surplus product to Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation of Odisha Limited. The procurement was done through 68 societies in eight districts at ₹2,897 per quintal. Around 17,986 quintals of rice were procured.

“The decision would go a long way in promoting millet in the State. It will not only give an additional choice to consumers in their food basket but also help tribals earn much-needed cash through the PDS. Now, rice and wheat — two principal grains — are being supplied to people through the PDS. But, a large population in Odisha consumes millet. Besides, tribals who were selling millet at ₹15 to ₹20 per kg will get more than ₹29 per kg, which will encourage them to go in for millet production,” said Prasant Mohanty, an activist who have been advocating the promotion of millet for years.

Senior officials from different departments participated in the meeting to streamline millet distribution in the State. The Millet Mission directorate was directed to promote consumption of ragi in urban pockets through tie-ups with bakeries, biscuit manufacturers, sweet stalls and mega retail counters.

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