Saturday, January 20, 2018

Centre to Declare 2018 as ‘National Year of Millets’: Karnataka Government


Nutrient-rich millets have got a boost with the Union government deciding to declare 2018 as the ‘national year of millets’. This decision has been taken following a request by Karnataka, which is the country’s leader in the millet sector.

At the inauguration of the three-day international trade fair of organics and millets, Union Statistics and Programme Implementation Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said the Union Agriculture Ministry had already completed the formalities in this regard. Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda has been campaigning for declaring 2018 as national year of millets.

Good health, good business

According to experts, dedicating a year for millets will not only increase awareness about its health benefits, but also result in higher demand for these drought-resistant varieties, resulting in remunerative prices for poor and marginal farmers.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Gowda said that Karnataka is trying to promote millet cultivation ‘as we move towards climate-smart agriculture in the wake of frequent droughts’. He pointed out that the State had witnessed only three normal rainfall years from 2000 to 2017.

The State government had spent ?200 crore in the last four years publicising the health benefits of millets among consumers in a bid to trigger an increase in demand. The State had also appealed to the Centre to include millets in the mid-day meal scheme for school children and in the Public Distribution System, he said.

Meanwhile, 250 companies have set up stalls at the exhibition at the trade fair, which is said to be the biggest such event in the country that has brought stake-holders in organics and millets under one roof. About 150 companies are participating as buyers, besides various research organisations.

After inaugurating the event, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah remarked that he had bajra roti for breakfast, as he had switched over to millets in the interest of health.

The main attraction at the Fest

The main attraction for consumers was Khanavali (the food court), which serves a wide range of dishes made from millets. It also hosts the Food and Nutrition Forum, which is an international conference and exposition being held throughout the trade fair.

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