With a view to ensure that millets become a part of average Indian’s diet, the Government of India is trying to include it in school feeding programmes (Mid-day Meal), Union agriculture secretary SK Pattanayak said at an ASSOCHAM-Karnataka Government joint event, ‘Organics & Millets 2018’ held in New Delhi today.
“Even the NITI Aayog has suggested that millets should be a part of public distribution system (PDS),” said Pattanayak while addressing the event. “The Government of India is thinking to coin a new term called ‘nutricereals’ for millets, perhaps that will have a much better meaning and carry the message to every citizen of this country,” he added.
Pattanayak also informed that Department of Agriculture is trying to resolve various issues related to millets as the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) is working on producing high yielding varieties and enhancing the shelf-life.
Besides, the Government of India is also willing to give specific assistance to those willing to grow millets under the National Food Security Mission of the Department of Agriculture.
He also said that in future, India’s strategy has to shift from individual farmers to that of farmer producer organisations (FPOs) because they can aggregate it, cater to the market and link it with that.
Earlier, addressing the ASSOCHAM-Karnataka Government joint roadshow, Ashok Dalwai, chief executive officer (CEO), National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) said that the Government of India along with state governments is trying to create demand for millets and organic products.
“There is a scope for entrepreneurs, industrial houses to invest in machinery for primary and secondary processing of millets,” said Dalwai.
“We have already been in touch with lot of food-chain industries to promote National Agri Value-chain platform, we want every farmer becomes an integral member of the value chain,” he added.
He also said that it will help the farmers become an integral part of an elongated value chain and supply chain linking right up to the global markets.
“To facilitate all these things we are also now drafting the Contact Farming Act, in hope that by next month we would be able to release that to the state governments where the industrial houses are able to take advantage of the provisions of the Contact Farming Act and then promote the farmers in to producing what is marketable, give them extension advice, input deficiency management benefits and simultaneously assure pre-seasonal agreed market prices,” said Dalwai.
He also informed that Union Government was also pursuing the state governments to have a new market structure as the APMCs (Agriculture Produce Market Committees) have become monopolies by themselves.
“It is now time that we break the monopoly even if they are government organisations and create alternate marketing systems, so we would like the private sector to come and set up private markets and they will be given level playing field under the new provisions,” added the CEO of NRAA.
“We hope that with a reformed market environment supplemented by the new marketing act, contact farming act, new land lease act and of course the value-chain platform we should be able to build a new price discovery environment, a competitive, healthy market, transparent environment for farmers,” Dalwai further said Dalwai.