Written by Dinesh Balam, RRA Network | March 30, 2020
Government of Odisha launched “Odisha Millets Mission” in 2017. Design of this mission emerged from the consultation organized by NCDS, ASHA Network and RRA Network in collaboration with Government of Odisha. Odisha Millets Mission has unique architecture where implementation is done by government in close partnership with NCDS, CSOs / NGOs and community based organizations (CBOs).
One of the key objectives of OMM is to procure and include millets in PDS, ICDS, MDM and ST SC Welfare hostels. As part of the mandate, Ragi procurement was launched in the year 2018. 17895 Quintals were procured in the KMS 2018-19. Procured ragi was then distributed through PDS in 7 tribal districts in Southern Odisha.
Ragi procurement was also initiated in the KMS 2019-20. Target for Ragi procurement for the KMS 2019-20 was 1,00,000 Quintals. Ragi procurement was initiated in the 14 districts. Extensive awareness programmes and campaigns were conducted by Civil Society partners to raise the awareness on procurement. Sieving machines were arranged at mandis so that good grain quality can be procured.
In spite of all the preparation, there were many challenges in the communication and short coming in the interior areas. As most of the mandi infrastructure has been built for paddy, it was quite challenging to fine-tune it on real time basis for ragi crop.
“Ragi procurement for state of Odisha for KMS 2019-20 was started in cut off areas (Swabhiman Anchal) of Malkangiri.” Ragi mandi in badapada was inaugurated by Shri Arun Kumar Sahoo, Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture on Dec 23rd on the occasion of National Farmers Day. Many farmers from hilly areas brought their produce on the horses. In the Nakamamidi and other part of cut off areas (Swabhiman Anchal), many farmers have brought the Ragi for procurement in boats/launch for selling their ragi. Many farmers have evinced interest in shifting from the upland rice and cotton to ragi.
Key highlights of the Ragi procurement of KMS 2019-20 are as follows:-
- 93000 Qntls of the Ragi was procured against the target of 1, 00,000 Qntls.
- First ever mandi was initiated in the erstwhile cut off areas (Swabhiman Anchal) of the Malkangiri district in 72 yrs.
- First ever mandi was initiated in the Simlipal Forest Reserve in the Mayurbhanj District.
NCDS under the guidance of Dr Srijit Mishra has submitted policy recommendations for state benchmark price of procurement of little millet and foxtail millet. As of now, MSP is not declared for little millet and other minor millets by CACP Govt of India
Ms Aashima Choudhury , State Coordinator of Odisha Millets Mission, WASSAN said that efforts are being made to explore the procurement of other millets such as little millet and foxtail millet apart from ragi. Pilots in inclusion of millets in ICDS and MDM are also planned for Keonjhar District in 1st phase. It has got delayed to COVID-19. In addition to inclusion of millets in Government schemes, Odisha Millets Mission is planning to collaborate with Mission Shakti Department to promote WSHG based entrepreneurship on millets. NCDS is also currently collaborating with NNEDPro Cambridge university to build capacities of Women collectives on nutrition centric entrepreneurship,
Based on the learning of the Keonjhar, Government is keen to take up inclusion of millets in ICDS and MDM in the DMF districts. In the view of the COVID-19, discussion are going on what would be the best way to distribute Ragi. Whether it should be given to tribal dominant blocks only or to all the 14 tribal districts. Government is also planning to develop a strategy so that ragi can be distributed to the appropriate and most needful farmers based on evolving situation”.