Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Millet Savers Mela at HD Kote

Pipal Tree, in association with Sahaja Samrudda, has organised a Millet Savers Mela at Myrada, Handpost, HD Kote on April 10. The aim of the Mela is to motivate communities to revive the cultivation and consumption of millets, most of which have almost disappeared from our food system since the introduction of the green revolution and the centralised food policies.

The Mela will bring together millets farmers and organic farmers from different parts of Karnataka. There will be an exhibition of millets varieties grown in different parts of Karnataka by the participating farmers. The Mela will also provide an opportunity to those farmers who would like to revive the tradition and culture of millet farming to procure seeds at the Mela.

Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samrudda, said that these traditional food grains are storehouses of nutrition and far more nutritious than rice and wheat. The elderly people in the communities testify how strong and healthy they were when their food system was based on millets.

'There are enough indications that the country will face huge food shortages with dramatic shortfalls in the production of wheat and rice by about 2050 or earlier as a result of the increase in atmospheric temperature and shrinking water sources. Millets could be the solution as they are rain fed crops, growing with little water,' he states.

Farmers who have carried forward the wisdom across generations will be honoured on the occasion. HD Kote MLA Chikkanna will inaugurate the event.
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Millets and food security, a mela with a difference

Despite of soaring temperature, farmers from all over Karnataka gathered at the Millet Mela jointly organised by Pipal Tree and Sahaja Samrudda in HD Kote, Mysore District on Tuesday.

The exhibition at the mela provided varieties of millet seeds for farmers to takeaway and grow. The Mela emphasised the importance of 'Akkadi' or mixed cropping in millet cultivation.

A group of women talked about traditional millet based recipes. They hoped to collect all these recipes and disseminate them to a new generation that was not aware of them. Some farmers enumerated all the different varieties of millets that were grown in Karnataka. Others went into the reasons why millets suffered a setback in the context of the green revolution and other government policies.

HD Kote farmer Bhaskar, insisted there was wealth to be earned from minor millets like Samay, Navane, Ragi, Baragu, and Oodalu. There were also discussions on using the SRI method in Ragi cultivation, where a Haveri farmer Mookkappa Poojar, has harvested 25 quintals of Ragi from one acre of land following this method. Haveri farmer Nagappa asked farmers not to fall into the prey to the seed companies.

Speaking on the occasion, Krishna Prasad from Sahaja Samrudda, stated that returning to millets and mixed cropping was a return to sustainable agriculture and good health. He further highlighted the importance of women in propagating millets.

'Men appear to have easily succumbed to the lure of Bt cotton and cash crops. But women have more health conscious and they play a pioneering role in promoting the return to millet farming in a big way,' he added.

Siddhartha from Pipal Tree stated that the food security situation is likely to become extremely serious in the next few decades. Wheat and rice will suffer dramatic shortfalls in production due to water shortages and rise in temperature.

'Millets, which are rainfed crops, grow with very little water. Given the fact that much of the agricultural dry land in India was suitable to millet farming, the government needed to promote millet farming on a war footing. This could be the most important 'adaption' measure in the context of climate change,' he added.

Over all, the the general consensus of mela is present trends with chemical agriculture leads to disaster.

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