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Mumbai joins the Millet Bandwagon

Mumbai joins the Millet Bandwagon

Karnataka Agri minister takes the Millet movement to Mumbai

by Suman Gupta

Mumbai, December 12, 2017: In a bid to strengthen the ‘Millet Movement’ across the country, Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda elucidated the benefits of millets and encouraged the masses to opt for the same as an alternate food at the Organic&Millet Road Show at Mumbai. The event was organized at the Taj Land’s End, Bandra, by the Agriculture Department, Government of Karnataka in association with ASSOCHAM and present at the conference were corporates, including Godrej Nature Baskets, Parle Agro, Herballife, Unilever, Marico, Haldirams, Badshah masala, Kelloggs, Future Consumers, Godrej Nature Baskets, Godrej Tyson, The Leela, ITC Maratha, BEC Foods, Aditya Birla and many more.

Karnataka is taking its Millet Revolution lock, stock, and barrel to the rest of the country, with the Karnataka State Minister for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda reiterating about the ‘Organics & Millets 2018- International Trade Fair’, scheduled to be held at Palace Grounds, Bengaluru, from January 19 to 21 and then reaching out to other states for a collaborative approach to promote this super food that can benefit the farmers, the environment and the people.

Millets are not only super food they are great for the environment as well. They are a produce that grows even in marginal lands, with low rainfall. These environment-friendly crops are low cost and require 70% less water than rice to grow and, are being cultivated in an area of about 30 million acres in India. But the lack of awareness about this nutritional powerhouse has brought a low market demand.

Recently, Karnataka Agriculture Minister, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda pitched the idea to the United Nations, via the UNFAO through an official visit to Rome, for declaring the year 2018 as ‘International Year of Millets’. A suggestion, if agreed, will raise awareness about millets among consumers, policy makers, industry and  R&D sectors around the world. The aims to take the ‘Organic and Millet’ message to the rest of the world with India in the forefront.

Earlier, Karnataka State Department of Agriculture organised roadshows across the country as a precursor to the ‘Organics & Millets 2018- International Trade Fair’ which aims to take the ‘Organic and Millet’ message to the rest of the world.

 “Karnataka government’s Organics and Millets call are being answered by farmers across the country. Overlooked since the ‘Green Revolution’ of the 1960s, these forgotten food grains are on the comeback because of their superior nutritional profile and the fact that they are highly drought resistant,” said Agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda, while announcing the Organics and Millet International Trade Fair.

Hailed as a miracle crop, the ancient forgotten grain, Millets largely wiped out from our farms and diets, are making a comeback, thanks to the efforts of Karnataka government. The four Roadshows in Chennai, Hyderabad, Cochin and Delhi respectively in October 5th, October 24th, October 27th and November 27th, garnered considerable local and national attention, setting off an intense debate around the country on sustainable farming.

The ‘Organics & Millets 2018- International Trade Fair’ will showcase the growing awareness about an alternative lifestyle and farming that respects nature. Nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their higher levels of protein with most balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber & minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous, millets can provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women. Anemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled with an intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets. Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants.

“This fair is a platform to bring farmers, marketers and consumers under one roof. We are proud to say that Karnataka is the first state to take the ‘Organic and Millet’ message to the world outside. Besides, our venture is the first of its kind initiative in the country to create awareness about the Organics and Millets from the government’s side. For this mission to be successful, we need the support of our neighboring states too,” said Mr Gowda. The minister said the message Karnataka wants to convey is simple. “We have to reacquaint ourselves with Millets. Incorporating this crop in our diet is one of the panacea for most health aliments we face today. For the past 4 years, this has been the main mission of the Agriculture Department of Karnataka,” he added.

Karnataka has an early mover advantage by being the first state in India to formulate an organic policy in 2004 that seeks to cater to the entire organic value chain and signals the shift in emphasis from conventional agriculture, which is increasingly becoming unsustainable. This policy was further evolved given the momentum of land under certified organic cultivation grew from 2500 Hect(e)ars (2004) to 93,963 Hectares, paving the way for Karnataka Organic Policy 2017. The policy is a multi-level engagement that is designed to shift from traditional farming in view of recurring droughts and erosion of soil quality. In that sense, it is a very forward looking policy and provides the farmer with much-needed market linkagesnable. The state is the first in the country do so.

About the ‘Organics & Millets 2018- International Trade Fair’

The ‘Organics & Millets 2018- International Trade Fair’ is an international conference and exposition on vista of opportunities in agriculture, horticulture, processing and marketing. The event offers an excellent platform for farmers, buyers, sellers and exporters of organic produce and millets. This fair also facilitates organic product processors, manufacturers of farm equipment and others to showcase their products and expertise in organic and millet related areas. The fair serves as an important confluence for all organic stakeholders for the promotion of trade and sharing of information and knowledge about organic agribusiness. In Karnataka, Organic & Millet farmers have been organised into 14 Regional Federations, which produces wide-ranging variety of organic and millet crops. This trade fair provides an easy platform to connect with this wide producer base. It is a one stop opportunity to source your requirement of organic and millet crops.

The ‘Organics & Millets 2018- International Trade Fair’, is organised by the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka, Karnataka State Agricultural Produce Processing and Export Corporation Limited (KAPPEC), State Agricultural Universities and Jaivik Krishik Society. International Competence Centre for Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) is the Knowledge Partner for the event. ASSOCHAM, The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India is the industry partner for the event.  The Millet Research Associates are the ‘Indian Institute of Millet Research’ (IIMR) and the ‘International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics’ (ICRISAT).

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