Palampur, March 11
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) wants state governments, including Himachal, to provide the minimum support price (MSP) for millets to farmers to encourage them to grow these.
TR Sharma, Deputy Director General, ICAR, inaugurated a brainstorming session on mainstreaming native agro-biodiversity of north-western Himalayas with special emphasis on millets at CSK HP Agriculture University here.
Addressing scientists, farmers and other stakeholders, he said technology was available to enhance production of millets by 225 per cent although the area under millets had declined by 75 per cent in the past 70 years. He said millets would be included in mid-day meals to provide nutritious food to students and enhance the income of farmers.
He said a major project of the ICAR on agro-biodiversity was yielding good results. Collection and conservation of landraces and wild species was crucial to developing climate-resilient crop varieties. He said besides underutilised crops, the ICAR was working on bio-fortification of varieties such as wheat, containing a high amount of zinc.
HK Chaudhary, Vice-Chancellor, said awareness had been created among farmers about the importance of growing and using millets, but there was need for providing marketing facilities on the doorstep of farmers.
An MoU had been signed with the Indian Institute of Millets Research and the university was working on identifying traditional varieties of millets which gave high yields.
Chaudhary also dwelt on changing food habits, low cost of millet production, importance of indigenous knowledge, naturally bio-fortified crops and processing of millets.
JC Rana, country director, Alliance Biodiversity International, and Director, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), said a Rs 1000-crore project had been initiated on mainstreaming agro-biodiversity. It would provide good results. He said a value chain had been developed to conserve traditional landraces.
SP Dixit, Director, Research, said efforts had been made to conserve biodiversity. The state had around 1 per cent biodiversity of the world.
RK Chahota, convener, said the programme was jointly organised by the university, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Around 15O persons, including Nek Ram Sharma, a Padam Shri awardee progressive farmer, took part in the programme.
Grains to be part of mid-day meals
- Tech available to enhance production of millets by 225%
- Area under millets declined 75% in past 70 years
- Millets to be included in mid-day meals to provide nutritious food
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