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Mela begins with a call to promote millets

Staff Reporter

Farmers from Karnataka, neighbouring States are taking part


Two-day event is being held at Gandhi Bhavan

‘Area under millet cultivation has decreased drastically over the years'


Bangalore: The two-day ‘Siridhaanya Mela' (millet mela) began at Gandhi Bhavan here on Saturday. Farmers from across the State and a handful from other States are participating in the event.

The mela has been jointly organised by the National Agricultural Innovation Project, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Pristine Organics and Sahaja Organics.

Anil Kumar, coordinator of Millet Network of Karnataka, told The Hindu that area under millet cultivation had decreased drastically over the years. Quoting statistics complied by the Millets Network of India, he said between 1956 and 1961, millets were cultivated on 36.2 million hectares in the country. This came down to 21.31 million hectares during 2001-06.

“With the decrease in the area of cultivation, several varieties of millet such as akale, same, navane and oodalu have become rare. These varieties are not easily available even in agricultural universities. It is, therefore, important to preserve these traditional varieties,” he said.

He said that millets must be promoted through the Public Distribution System. “Since they are high in nutrition, millets can be included in the food served in hostels and anganwadis. This will also help farmers cultivating millets,” he added.

K.C. Raghu from Pristine Organics said food security was confined to wheat and rice. “We have an enormous insecurity with regard to oil seeds, pulses and millets. The death of diversity includes death of languages, heritage, ethos, traditions and food crops… all in the name of modernity, development and increasing GDP,” he said.

“Millets are more nutritious than wheat and rice, but there is not enough information about their nutritional factors.” Rama K. Nayak from UAS, Dharwad, N.R. Shetty from Sahaja Samrudha, and Vijay Jardai from Beej Bachao Andolan in Uttarakhand, were present.

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