Written by Dinesh Balam, RRA Network | July 23, 2020
Online National Consultation on Promotion of Millets; Implementation experience was held on 22.07.2020 under the chairmanship of Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog. Participants from Health & Nutrition Division-Niti Aayog, Agriculture & FE Department – Odisha and WCD Departments of Chhattisgarh & Rajasthan, School Education Dept-Andhra Pradesh, CSIR-CFTRI, WASSAN and Working Group on Millets (WGoM) of RRA Network participated in the consultation.
At the outset, Mr. Alok Kumar IAS welcomed the participants. Niti Aayog is looking to this sharing session and hopes that this will lead to a plan for action for reviving millets.
Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog said that due to consistent engagement of NITI Aayog with different Central Ministries, Dept of School Education and MoWCD had issued an advisory to all States to include Millets in ICDS and MDM. Niti Aayog is interested in understanding the successful models, challenges faced by states in the inclusion of millets in govt schemes, changes required in existing policies/guidelines, so on and so forth.
Dr. Saurabh Garg Principal Secretary, Agriculture & FE Dept, Odisha said that Odisha Millets Mission (OMM) started in 2017 and is currently implemented in 76 blocks covering 14 districts. OMM is a comprehensive program that focuses on farm to fork approach. It is a partnership between Government, farmers, CBOs, NCDS, WASSAN led civil society. The unique architecture of OMM is a secret of its success. Based on the baseline survey of 7000 OMM farmers done by NCDS, yields have doubled and income from millet has tripled. Under OMM, procurement of ragi and distribution has also been undertaken. Currently, ragi ladoo is being included in ICDS in Keonjhar targeting 1.5 lakh children. Phase wise science-backed inclusion of millets in ICDS/MDM is being planned.
Ms. D Divya, Special Secretary cum Commissioner, Telangana shared that with support of WASSAN, the inclusion of millets (Sorghum Rava and Foxtail Millet Kitchdi) was piloted in 45 AWCs and also Sorghum was given in PDS at the rate of Rs 8 per kg in 2016. Now Telangana is planning to pilot large scale inclusion of millets in hot cooked meals with an allotment of millets (355 MT of Sorghum and 607 MT of Bajra) from the Government of India through FCI.
Dr. Usha Dharmaraj, CSIR-CFTRI, Grain science Department said that CFTRI has been working on millets for nearly 25 years. Bio-availability and processing are key aspects to be considered when it comes to the inclusion of millets in ICDS & MDM. As millets have high fiber, it is important to semi-polish millets appropriately to reduce fiber and retain bran to increase the bioavailability and counter the anti-nutrient effects.
Mr. A Ravindra, Executive Secretary WASSAN said Key drivers for inclusion in government schemes are procurement and subsidization of millets, focus on location-specific millet recipes as per local food cultures and landscapes, focus on local production, local processing, allocation by the government should factor processing loss and costs like rice and intensive awareness campaigns and food festivals should be taken up to revive the prestige of consumption of millets among the younger generation.
Mr. Diwan Mydeen IFS, Director, MDM, Andhra Pradesh said that, Under MDM, State is actively considering bringing in ragi mudda and ragi chikki. The major issue is that rice is supplied free of cost in MDM, similarly, if Ragi powder can be supplied free of cost in place of rice for two days, then School Education Dept will take it on large scale for two days a week. If costs are reimbursed, School Education Dept can engage with different departments at the state level for decentralized procurement, processing, and millet recipe preparation aspects.
Mr. R Prasanna IAS, Secretary, WCD Dept Chhattisgarh said that Chhattisgarh is planning to include Ragi in Ready to Eat/THR packets. WCD Dept is planning to procure at a rate of Rs 40 per kg, Nearly Rs 8 higher than MSP. 3 gm of Ragi will be added in each packet. Around 2027.9 MT would be procured for this pilot initiative. Rs 8.11 Cr has been allocated for this purpose. Directorate of Agriculture, Chhattisgarh has proposed procurement of Kodo millet and Little millet at the rate of Rs 3000 per Qntl. This proposal is waiting for review at the senior levels of government.
After the presentation from the states, a detailed discussion took place on the next steps of action. Following decisions emerged from the consultation under the chairmanship of Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog:
(1) Niti Aayog will continue to engage with representatives of interested states, civil society, academia to identify the changes required in policies and will engage with central ministers to bring changes in policies.
(2) Information on the successful models such as Odisha Millets Mission shall be shared with state governments and Aspirational districts to encourage them to take up millet related initiatives.
(3) District Administration with approval of state governments may develop millet related proposals in Aspirational districts to Niti Aayog. It will explore funding for the same.
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