Union Budget gives fillip to revive millet cultivation in state

Published on Feb 04, 2022 12:17 AM IST
During the Union Budget presentation, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday had announced that 2022-23 will be considered as the International Year of Millets
The production area of minor millets in Karnataka has fluctuated in recent years, standing at around 0.48 lakh hectares in 2020-21 as against 0.52 lakh hectares in the corresponding year, data shows. (HT)
The production area of minor millets in Karnataka has fluctuated in recent years, standing at around 0.48 lakh hectares in 2020-21 as against 0.52 lakh hectares in the corresponding year, data shows. (HT)
BySharan Poovanna, Bengaluru

During the Union Budget presentation, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday had announced that 2022-23 will be considered as the International Year of Millets.

“Support will be provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption, and for branding millet products nationally and internationally,” Sitharaman had said. The government’s assurance will boost states like Karnataka which has moved in the direction to diversify and incentivise production of these super foods.

During the Union Budget presentation, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday had announced that 2022-23 will be considered as the International Year of Millets.

“Support will be provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption, and for branding millet products nationally and internationally,” Sitharaman had said. The government’s assurance will boost states like Karnataka which has moved in the direction to diversify and incentivise production of these super foods.

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“The state has already incentivised production of minor millets. Further decision will be taken on new schemes and programmes after we get more details on the budget from the Union government,” said an official from the Karnataka agriculture department, requesting not to be named.

“Since 2017, we have a dedicated policy for minor millets to give 10,000 per hectare incentive (capped at 2 hectares) under the Raitha Siri scheme,” he added.

The production area of minor millets in Karnataka has fluctuated in recent years, standing at around 0.48 lakh hectares in 2020-21 as against 0.52 lakh hectares in the corresponding year, data shows. But there has been a renewed interest in millets, which was promoted as a drought-resistant crop in a calamity-prone state.

As per the experts, growing millets has multiple advantages, especially in Karnataka.

“Millets are climate-resilient crops. They can even survive delayed rains, unlike paddy which has its disadvantages, including being water intensive in a state which has declared droughts for at least 15 out of the last 20 years. The fodder quality of millets is also high,” said an expert.

“Crops like ragi (finger millet), jowar (sorghum) and bajra (pearl millet), consumed and produced in large quantities in Karnataka, are not classified under minor millets,” the official said, adding, this challenges the higher adoption of the super food.The minor millets include Foxtail millet, Little millet, Kodo millet, Porso millet, Barnyard millet and Browntop millet.

Earlier, former Karnataka minister for agriculture-cum-Congress legislator from Bengaluru Krishna Byre Gowda had said that there are only a few takers for millets since most mills are used for maize, paddy and wheat.

“If you want more farmers to grow millets, then you must compensate them. Paddy gets subsidies for fertilisers and water. The farmers growing climate resilient crops should be fairly compensated,” Gowda had said.

The then Congress government had also proposed to cultivate millets in dry lands where paddy cannot be grown.

Ragi is a staple food in several parts of Karnataka, especially the southern region whereas jowar and bajra are considered a staple in the north-western parts of Karnataka. However, changes, accentuated by policy and demand, has seen the state move towards paddy and sugarcane, resulting in total loss in area of over 7.5 lakh hectares.Under minimum support prices, there are restrictions on procurement of ragi in the state.

Previously, Congress leader Siddaramaiah had slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party government (BJP) for restricting procurement to 2.1 lakh tonnes while the estimated production in the state is around 15 lakh tonnes.

Schemes like the ‘One District, One Product’, marketing, tie ups with startups and other initiatives have also slowed down in the last couple of years.There has been a dip in budgetary allocations as well. According to the yearly economic survey, the state was allocated 12.88 crore budget in 2019-20. During 2020-21, a budgetary allocation of 5.00 crore was provided, of which 2.50 crores was released.

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