In an attempt to popularise the consumption of millet-based products among officials, the state agriculture secretary on Thursday wrote to secretaries of all departments to consider inclusion of millet snacks in the official meetings of their departments.
In a letter to all the department secretaries, state agriculture and farmer empowerment secretary Arabinda Kumar Padhee has written that millets-based products like cookies, mixture, sticks, khurma, nimki, sev, pitha and soup are tasty and have found wide acceptance amongst the consumers.
“It would be a great economic opportunity for the Mission Shakti women self-help groups, trained under Odisha Millets Mission to supply millet-based snacks to various departments. This will help in spreading awareness on millets and provide livelihood support to a host of people in the value chain,” said Padhee.
To improve nutrition at the household level through the revival of millets among tribal communities in the state, the government in 2017 launched Odisha Millet Mission in 30 blocks spread over seven districts.
It has now been scaled up to 84 blocks of 15 districts covering 1.17lakh farmers in convergence with District Mineral Foundation and will be extended to 142 blocks in 19 districts by the end of 2022-23 fiscal.
The agriculture department has planned to cover 81,700hectares in 2022-23 with 1.5 lakh farmers.
The land area on which ragi (millets) are grown has gone up from 3,116hectares in 2017 to 52,800hectares now.
Millet crop yields have also increased from 13.59quintals (100kg) per hectare in 2018 to 16.42quintals per hectare in 2020.
In 2021-22, the state government procured a sum of 3.23lakh quintals of ragi from 41,286 farmers at minimum support price of ₹3377 per quintal. During the current kharif marketing season, the government has set a target of procurement of 6 lakh quintals of Ragi at Minimum Support Price. The government has included millets under PDS providing it at ₹2 per kg to 50lakh ration card beneficiaries for one month in 14 districts as a substitute of rice from the quantity procured during KMS 2019-20.
Laddoo made out of millets are being provided to over 1.5lakh children in tribal-dominated districts of Keonjhar and Sundargarh.
To popularise millet, 96 millet-based tiffin centres and two quick service restaurants and millet shakti outlets have been established in urban and rural areas to raise the year-round demands of millet.