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Rs 100-crore push for millets

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik (extreme right) in a meeting at secretariat on Monday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced extension of Odisha Millets Mission to 11 districts of the state, for which Rs 100 crore will be spent during 2018-19.

"In order to provide remunerative price to the farmers and improve the nutritional security, the state government will procure millets and utilise them in the government schemes," said Naveen.

"An amount of Rs 100 crore will be spent during the next year for this purpose. The amount will be scaled up in future. This will benefit around five lakh farmers, especially in the rain-deficit areas of the state," he said.

The state government is already implementing a pilot programme named Odisha Millets Mission in 30 blocks of seven districts. It will be extended to 55 blocks of 11 districts.

"Millets are an integral part of tribal life. It has been a staple diet of the tribals of Odisha since time immemorial. Millets are grown mostly in rain-deficit areas by the small and marginal farmers," said Naveen.

Millets have been recognised as nutri-cereals, in view of the higher calcium, iron, fibre and other micro nutrient composition.

Sources said millets constituted a substantial part of the diet and crop systems in the tribal areas of Odisha. Millets require less water and are more resilient to erratic weather conditions.

The state agriculture department has launched a pilot programme in seven tribal-dominated districts with the objective to enhance household nutrition security and create demand for millets.

It has been planned to set up millet processing enterprises at the panchayat and block levels.

Under this mission, millet cultivation had been taken up on 7,444 acres during the 2017-18 kharif season. This programme will now be expanded to another 25 blocks (it is implemented on pilot basis in 30 blocks). A sum of Rs 126.65 crore will be spent to revive millet farming over five years. Farmers will be provided incentives through direct benefit transfer to grow millets.

An official said the sale outlets for millet-based products would be established in 26 locations in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation area from May.

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