With farmers facing severe hardships due to lack of rains along with recent water crisis, Karnataka Organic, Natural and Swadesi Product Association (KONSPA) has come forward to promote farmers to grow Siri Dhanya (Millets).
Farmers, producers, dealers to approach farmers in cauvery catchment area, specially in Mandya and distribute free seeds to the interested farmers to grow millets. A group of farmers in the association who are already earning profits by growing millets are touring the districts to educate farmers.
Over the past four months the association has even entered into a buy back arrangement to purchase the millets with more than 150 farmers in Hunsur and Chamarajanagar. The organisation is receiving calls from farmers as far as Tumkur, Dharward, Gadag, Chitradurga, Hunsur, Chamarajanagar to enquire about growing millets.
Unlike paddy and sugarcane which are water intensive crops, millets can be grown with least amount of water. They grow well even in dry lands with scanty rainfall. In one acre of land, 8-10 quintals of millets can be grown and the water requirement is only around 1000 liters. In case, there is acute shortage of water they can use sprinklers and the crops can be harvested within a short span of three months. The expenses is also meager to grow millets including processing. Hardly farmers spends around Rs 5,000, while they can earn around Rs 25,000 per acre.
To promote marketing facilities for the products, members are visiting schools, colleges and private companies to create awareness about health benefits of using millets in their daily diet. They say, as siridhanaya are rich in fiber, gluten free and low GI index, it is the best solution to most modern day diseases. With processing of millets is another major problem and the association is educating farmers on how to process millets by using a ordinary mixer grinder.
Association President Padmaja said that we will be encouraging farmers in dry land areas to grow crops that are best suited for those regions. This is a step towards encouraging sustainable living in villages through cropping practices. 'We want every house hold to use millets as a regular part of their diet, which is good for health and we can control increasing incidnets of diabetes, cardiac and other major ailments,' she adds.
HD Kote Taluk farmer Dorai said that due to failure in monsoon and depletion of ground water it has become problem to grow rice, wheat and sugar cane. Farmers can sustain if they grow millets in this time of water crisis. Seeds are being distributed free of cost and Rs 38 is given for 1 kg millet.'
Gundlupet farmer Srinath Shetty said: 'Farmers should start growing millets as these are rain fed crops. About 9 varieties of millets are promoted to farmers to grow, of which 6 varieties can be used as substitute for rice, and three varieties to prepare balls similar to ragi balls. Its high time government should take measures to encourage farmers through NGOs.'
NGO Sahaja Samrudha founder Krishna Prasad said that government should take initiatives to promote millet cultivation, so that global warming, solutio for health, and even farmers sustainability can be seen.