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"Millet Growers’ Association to be formed by farmers"

On 1st November, a group of more than 40 farmers from three villages – Mugad, Mandihal and Benakanakatti of Dharwad district assembled at Dr. Prakash Bhat’s residence “Bayalu” in Dharwad. They all had a common intention of discussing the status of millet cultivation in their villages, drawing strategies for their revival and ultimately to form an association of their own.eve1

Dr. Prakash Bhat set the context by explaining the importance of millets. He stressed on the nutritional advantage that the millets bring to the consumers comparing them with rice and wheat that are invariably a part of the Public Distribution System (PDS). The farmers also shared that the millets thrive in water stress conditions in the soil.  Millets are the crops that face drought boldly and are not perturbed by climatic vagaries like unseasonal rains, severely fluctuating temperatures and humidity regimes, etc. Dr. Bhat also drew the attention of the farmers towards the fact that if a particular crop is not grown for a generation, the knowledge  of its cultivation is likely get lost and some millets are definitely in this list. While jowar is being grown on a significant area compared to other millets, ragi (finger millet), savi (little millet), navane(fox tail millet) are grown to a very little extent now compared to  the yester years while millets like bajra, haraka (Kodo millet) and Baragu (Proso millet) are almost disappearing from the farmers’ fields albeit bajra remains a part of the diet. Many of the young generation have not even seen the Kodo and Proso millets.

The farmers also watched a documentary by Deccan Development Society on the importance of millets. Mr. Shivaraj eve2Hunagund, the resource person on millets shared his experience and also listed many local varieties of millets and shared that different varieties of millets are invariably used during certain occasions. The participant farmers shared the problems of growing millets. The farmers also discussed about the availability of millet seeds among themselves in their villages. Bajra, Navane and Jowar seeds were available with some of the farmers. It was decided to take the help of Mr. Hunagund to obtain seeds of other millets. The farmers appreciated the importance of millets and agreed that instead of buying these essential ingredients of their daily life, it is better they grew these millets themselves. The farmers also agreed that more the  crop diversity, the better it would be for the farmers considering the food and health security. The diversity and millets if grown by more number of farmers will also reduce the incidence of pests and diseases and also reduces the crop loss due to birds, everyone agreed

The meet also saw all present singing several motivating songs together and warming up to the occasion. At the end, the farmers of the three villages made two  important resolutions. First, they would include millets at least on a small portion of their lands and the second, was to form an association of millet growing farmers to safeguard their interests and achieve self reliance.  With this  resolution, the meeting ended with a delicious lunch that included a recipe of navane (fox tail millet).
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