02 April, 2021
9 Min Read
GS: Paper-3: Agriculture and Dry Land area Development: Prelims-Personality Test
Context: 2023 will be observed as the International Year of Millets after India’s proposal to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was approved. In the last six decades, millets have seen a drop in area despite green evolution in the 1960s; however, the productivity seems to go up with the help of high-yield varieties and better technologies.
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has supported an initiative to revive kodo millet and kutki (little millet) cultivation in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.
Millets score over rice and wheat, whether in terms of vitamins, minerals and crude fibre content or amino acid profile. They are gluten-free. In 2018, the Union Agriculture Ministry declared millets as “Nutri-Cereals”, considering their “high nutritive value” and also “anti-diabetic properties”. 2018 was observed as ‘National Year of Millets”. The UN General Assembly too adopted an India-sponsored resolution to mark 2023 as the “International Year of Millets”. Yet, these high-nutrient cereals (fine grains) aren’t the first choice of either consumers or farmers.
Background of Millets
Millets are one of the oldest foods, these are the small-seeded hardy crops which can grow well in dry zones or rain-fed areas under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are cultivated in low-fertile land, tribal and rain-fed and mountainous areas. These areas include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Due to their short growing season, millets can develop from seeds to ready to harvest crops in just about 65 days. This highly beneficial characteristic of the millets is of vital importance in thickly populated regions of the world. If stored properly, millets can keep well for two years or beyond.
Millets can not only grow in poor climatic or soil conditions and provide nutritious grain as well as fodder, but these can also very well fit into multiple cropping systems under irrigation as well as dryland farming due to their short growing season.
The prolonged and easy storability of millets under ordinary conditions has given them the status of Famine Reserves and this feature is of great importance for India, as the agriculture of our country suffers from unexpected changes in monsoon.
Types of Millets in India
The millets commonly grown in India include Jowar (sorghum), Bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), Jhangora (barnyard millet), Barri (Proso or common millet), Kangni (foxtail/ Italian millet), Kodra (Kodo millet) etc. Let us read about them in detail and also learn their regional names.
Importance of Millets
According to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, in 2016 – 2017, the area under the cultivation of millet declined with 60% less coverage area (to 14.72 million hectares) due to change in consumption pattern, conversion of irrigated area for wheat and rice cultivation, unavailability of millets, low yield, dietary habits, less demand. This resulted in fall in the level of nutrients like vitamin-A, protein, iron and iodine in women and children leading to malnutrition.
The Indian policymakers refocused their attention towards millet farming systems and enacted policies to create an enabling environment for the farmers. With respect to millets production, some of the existing schemes by the Government of India include:
Given below are some of the advantages of Production of Millets in India.
Millets as Smart Crop
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