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Balakrishan Lauds Millet Mission

Bhubaneswar: Chief Adviser to Chief Minister R Balakrishnan unveiled the curtain raiser for International Year of Millet (IYoM) 2023 today at Make in Odisha conclave. He also released a video and coffee table book on Odisha Millets Mission.

Shri Balakrishnan said that 2023 will be a turnaround year when millet consumption shall become aspirational for all segments of society and economical for our farmers and sustainable for our planet. Millets are often known as Aadi Anna or the ancient grains, Odisha Millets Mission has done remarkable work in terms of promoting millets.

One of the key reasons for the success of Odisha Millets Mission is its roots in culture of consumption of millets and its focus on engaging with Women Self-Help Groups. In collaboration with Mission Shakti, Odisha Millets Mission has been able to extend its reach and is also shaping the consumption practices in rural and urban areas. Odisha Millets Mission is a classic example of strengthening of roots for sustaining the future, he explained. 

He also emphasized that without millet, the history of making cannot be written. Social values are more important. OMM is not a typical government programme. OMM is a people’s movement. There is a NGOs network. Farmers are directly involved. And that is appropriate for millets, which are not just about a value chain but about a value system. OMM represents values which Odisha stands for. India is a melting point.

“Odisha is state which is an epitome of pluralism. In Odisha we have 62 tribal communities. Millet ground was lost. In the last 3000-4000 human beings have never domesticated new crops or reared new livestock. We have inherited what our forefathers have discovered. Odisha is adding to the greenery and also to the grain. When we are talking about millet, it is also about the future. We remove millet from our plate and imported oats from foreign countries. In last 50 years, 87 percent of millet growing area in the country dwindled. Because people perceived millet is low grade food, or poor man’s crop. But we forgot that millet is Aadi Anna, it is the crop of culture. The Jagannath Culture is rooted to tribal culture. And millets are staple of tribals for years”, he reminded.

Development Commissioner, APC cum ACS, Pradeep Kumar Jena said Millet is now recognized as a solution to global food problems. They are the ancient grains that have the potential to mitigate climate change, address malnutrition and empower millions of small-scale farmers, especially in the rainfed and semi-arid regions .

The curtain raiser event is a timely step by the State Government to popularize millets as well as its value-added products to make it a peoples’ movement, and urged Policy makers, academia, investors, start-ups, nutritionists, journalists, social media influencers, farmers producer organizations and civil societies should join their hands and meaningfully contribute towards the agenda of IYoM.

He congratulated OMM team to celebrate the Curtain Raiser for IYoM 2023. Few days back, Hon’ble CM declared the month of Margasira as Mandia Dibasa on 10 November. Millet is climate resilient, could resist to drought and climate friendly. OMM was launched in 2017, in 30 blocks. Now, we are targeting to reach to all 30 districts and reach out 173 blocks in the state. Some of the major focus under OMM includes increase area under millet cultivation, increase productivity, promote post-harvest management, and create a good market. This financial year we will procure around 6 lakh quintals under MSP. We are working on identifying suitable landraces with better productivity, developing package of practices, improve productivity. Sri Jena expressed his thanks to thousands of WSHGs and FPOs, farmers who are working with us under OMM.

Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Arabinda Kumar Padhee gave the welcome address. Following the recommendation of India, the United General Assembly has declared 2023 as IYoM.

Dr.Padhee said Over 70 countries across the globe will celebrate IYoM to increase awareness on health benefits of millets. The curtain raiser was the kick starter event for the celebration of IYoM under Odisha Millet Mission, a flagship program launched by the department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Government of Odisha in 2017-18. Our state has emerged as a model state for others in promoting millets in farms and food plates.

Odisha became the first state to declare millet cultivation incentive to farmers through Direct Benefit Transfer and include Ragi Ladoo in the Integrated Child Development Scheme. On this special day, Dr.Padhee urged the people of Odisha to include millet in our food plate and invited business houses to invest in the millet value chain within the state.

Shankar Banerjee, Big Basket, India’s largest online supermarket said that we are sourcing millets from Odisha. Earlier we were sourcing from other states. But Odisha has emerged as a top millet producing states in India. AP, Telangana and Karnataka contributing 60 percent of millet sales in big basket as of now. We are only selling certified organic millets. We are going to work with OMM very soon. Big Basket is excited to bring forth its experience in marketing organic millets and collaborating equitably with farmers, to its foray into Odisha’s growing millet market.

Among others, Principal Scientist, ICAR-IIMR, Padmalaya Mohanty, member of Shaktimayee WSHG and Program Policy Officer, South-South Collaboration, WFP spoke on the occasion.

Prem Chandra Choudhry, Director of Agriculture and Farmers Production, Government of Odisha presented Vote of Thanks.