In the Year of Millets, Coarse Grains Remain Neglected Despite Nutritional Benefits -Siraj Hussain
The government cannot procure the entire production of millets in the country and the only way to ensure profitability for millet farmers is to promote domestic consumption.
On October 3, the government announced the minimum support prices (MSP) for Rabi crops that will be sown between October and December. While the MSP for wheat has been raised by 6.1%, that of safflower has seen an increase of 20.6%, the highest. These crops will be harvested next year and enter the market from April 2019 onwards. We will know the impact of higher Rabi MSPs only then.
On July 4, the government announced MSPs for Kharif crops, ensuring 50% return over paid out cost of cultivation for all crops. The MSPs for ragi, jowar, bajra and maize were increased by about 52%, 43%, 37% and 19% respectively. These crops are being harvested now and large quantities will start arriving in mandis in the next two-three weeks.
In 2017-18, India produced 113 million metric tonnes (MMT) of rice while production of coarse grains (also called millets) was 47 MMT. Maize (29 MMT), bajra (9 MMT), jowar (5 MMT) and ragi (2 MMT) are the major millets grown in the country. These are mostly grown in rain-fed areas and they consume 20% to 40% less water than rice. Nutritionally, they are superior to wheat and rice as their amino acids are more balanced and they have crude fibre and minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorous. The production of maize has more than doubled since 2004-05, with Bihar emerging as a significant cultivator of Maize in Rabi.
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