Millet farming is on an enlargement mode in Kerala

Even as Attappady continues to be the chief in millet cultivation in Kerala, it’s being promoted in different elements of the State as nicely

Even as Attappady continues to be the chief in millet cultivation in Kerala, it’s being promoted in different elements of the State as nicely

Dosa with 5 sorts of millets and payasams cooked with millets are simply two artisanal meals on the menu of Millet Cafe at Pudur in Attappady taluk, Palakkad district. The four-month outdated cafe, run by three tribal ladies, serves quite a lot of millet-based dishes.

The cafe is among the many initiatives of Kudumbashree (the State Poverty Eradication Mission of Kerala Government) to advertise millet cultivation. Kudumbashree can be concerned within the manufacture of value-added merchandise from millets in Attappady, which has, for lengthy, been the millet capital of Kerala, because of its tribal inhabitants. Kudumbashree has its personal model, Hill Value, to market farm and forest produced by the tribals and the Millet Cafe is their newest addition (see field).

The success of millet farming in Attappady has motivated different districts in Kerala similar to Alappuzha. Last 12 months, Cherthala South panchayat within the district, cultivated ragi (finger millet) on over 250 acres unfold throughout 22 wards. It was maybe the primary time {that a} millet selection was grown on such a big scale in south Kerala.

The panchayat went for a second spherical of cultivation early this 12 months, earned an excellent harvest and is now all set for large-scale cultivation after the monsoon.

All these years, a lot of the millet cultivation in Kerala has been concentrated in Attappady, which is dwelling to 3 tribal communities — Irulas, Mudugas and Kurumbas. Millets are integral to their eating regimen and in 2017-18 the Kerala Government launched the Millet Village scheme in Attappady to assist conventional agricultural practices of those communities. It was collectively applied by Department of Agriculture and Scheduled Tribes Development Department. Idukki and Wayanad districts even have millet farms, largely in tribal settlements.

'Kuthiravali' or barnyard millet cultivated at Attappady

‘Kuthiravali’ or barnyard millet cultivated at Attappady | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

With the United Nations declaring 2023 because the International Year of Millets, they’re again as a superfood. Millets have excessive protein content material, are resilient to local weather variations, requires much less water for irrigation and is prepared for harvest over a brief time frame.

According to Rosmy George, agricultural officer with Krishi Bhavan, Cherthala South, it was the success story of Attappady that impressed her and her staff to attempt millet farming of their panchayat. The cultivation was launched by clubbing it with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), recognized colloquially as Thozhilurappu Padhathi, “The women laborers had no other means of income because of the pandemic and lockdown. Under MGNREGA they were assured of employment. Even though we were not sure if ragi would grow in the sandy soil of this region, we went ahead with it. Households were also covered. It was done by 220 MGNREGA groups, each consisting of 10 to 20 members. Since the lockdown was in force, we could train them only through WhatsApp. We concentrate on ragi because it has a better market. We had a good harvest of around 2.1 tonnes per hectare (2.47 acres),” says Rosmy.

Ragi harvested from farms at Cherthala South panchayat

Ragi harvested from farms at Cherthala South panchayat | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

She provides that the crop was efficiently grown within the coastal wards as nicely. “These wards, which lie close to the beach, are thickly populated and it is not possible to grow anything there because the waves would wash them away. That didn’t happen with ragi and the fisherfolk were enthused about growing it.”

In the second part, ragi was cultivated in 25 acres by people and teams and amongst them had been those that had an excellent harvest within the first spherical of cultivation. “In the first phase, our 20-member group harvested over 300 kilograms from 1.5 acres,” says Rangabai, a resident from the panchayat. “People came from across the district to buy ragi grains and we converted the rest of it into flour. In the second round, farming was done by our eight-member agri group, Haritha. Although we cultivated it on a small piece of land, we got over 170 kilograms. We are now getting the land ready for another round of cultivation.”

Millets on the menu

The Millet Cafe has completely different snacks and dishes made utilizing millets. The menu has ragi chapathi, millet dosa, thina lemon rice, thina dosa, ragi puttu,varagu payasam, combined millet dosa, vegetable millet uppumavupayasams made with chama or kambu,chama uppumavu or dosa or curd rice, and corn uppumavu or puttu, Among the snacks are ragi banana fritters, ragi ilayada or ragi rooster bonda.

Resi Rangan, Lakshmy Vellingiri and Jayalakshmy Veluswamy, members of the tribal neighborhood, who put together the dishes. “They are getting a steady income. Millet dosa is a big hit with the customers. The dough has chama, thina, ragi, kambu, varavu and urad dal. We are trying to make new items, including chama biriyani,” says Uma Selvaraj who coordinates the actions of the café.

According to Remadevi S, additionally from the panchayat, ragi was once grown in a number of households a few years in the past because it was integral to the eating regimen of new-born infants. “We grew it in the basins ( thadam) dug around coconut trees. That went out of practice eventually. So it was exciting to return to that farming after so many years. We got around 96 kilograms and it was sold at ₹90 per kilogram,” she says. The Krishi Bhavan additionally grew millets on their workplace premises together with greens.

The plan is to extend the realm below ragi cultivation within the subsequent monetary 12 months, says Rosmy. “We plan to involve 100 groups in this. Also, we are looking at making value-added products from ragi other than the flour,” she provides.

Leading from the entrance

Millets are cultivated on 1,200 hectares over the 2 cropping seasons in Attappady. This embody farms managed by Department of Agriculture, Kudumbashree and Tribal Department, explains Latha R, assistant director of agriculture (Attappady), Department for Agriculture Development and Farmers’ Welfare.

Some dishes at Millet Cafe

Some dishes at Millet Cafe | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Besides ragi, chama (little millet), thina (foxtail millet), varagu (kodo millet), panivaragu (proso millet), manicholam (sorghum), kambu (bajra) and kuthiravali (barnyard millet) are cultivated. The millets are grown in 192 hamlets, out of which 74 comes below the Agriculture Department. ‘Pancha krishi’ or the indigenous farming apply of cultivating completely different crops is being revived. With millets, pulses, greens, grain amaranth and the like are cultivated.

Kudumbashree’s position

'Chama' or little millet cultivation

‘Chama’ or little millet cultivation | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Groups below Kudumbashree develop six millet varieties in 665.49 acres. In 2019, it launched the Hill Value model and in addition revived Kambalam (see field), an age-old customized of the tribals to welcome the monsoon, below Attappady Adivasi Comprehensive Development Project.

Agri pageant

“Ritualistic songs and dance make Kambalam a festive occasion with heads ( moopan) of the hamlets leading the celebration,” says Shaiju. Traditional songs are rendered by teams and so they dance to the beats of devices as they sow seeds. It couldn’t be held within the final two years due to the pandemic. This 12 months, the primary occasion was held on May 20 at Kallakkara hamlet, the place 22 farming teams are cultivating on 42.4 acres, adopted by packages at Moolakombu and Kunnanchala hamlets. Kambalam will likely be held until June finish in 20 hamlets, involving 4,606 ladies farmers of 1,037 farming teams. Kudumbashree’s ooru samithis conduct the occasion in affiliation with panchayat samithis.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Department is all set to open a millet processing unit at Attappady. Attapady Tribal Farmers Association for Millets, an FPO (Farmer Producer Organization), will deal with the mill and advertising and marketing.

“The farmers have realized that there is no such thing as a dearth of marketplace for millets and value-added merchandise. They are actually assured of a greater earnings. A proposal has been submitted to the Central Government for a secondary processing unit to fabricate merchandise similar to noodles, pasta and flakes from millets. “The pandemic had slowed down procurement. Also they had been unable to promote the produce as a result of there have been no exhibitions or festivals. However, issues are slowly getting again on monitor,” says Latha.

Kambalam is the agri festival of the tribal communities in Attappady to herald monsoon.  They sing traditional songs and dance to the beats of instruments as they sow seeds of millets, pulses and vegetables

Kambalam is the agri pageant of the tribal communities in Attappady to herald monsoon. They sing conventional songs and dance to the beats of devices as they sow seeds of millets, pulses and greens | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Plans are on to convey out new merchandise below Hill Value model, says Shaiju E, mission coordinator, Attappady Comprehensive Tribal Development Program. “Better advertising and marketing methods should be in place to maintain this working. Also, steps needs to be taken to guard the crops from assault of untamed animals,” he factors out.

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