Making millets matter in Madhya Pradesh
Poster on millet promotion work in Madhya Pradesh through the IFAD-EU NUS Project presented at the International Agrobiodiversity Congress in New Delhi November 2016
Minor millets are central to traditional rainfed farming systems of Gond and Baiga peoples in Madhya Pradesh but their use is declining as livelihoods have shifted toward wage labor and purchase of subsidized grains (rice/wheat). Farmers limited time and land is focused on paddy and maize. Under increasingly drought-prone conditions, farmers are recognizing that hardy millets are more reliable but weak market channels, low productivity, and difficult processing are constraints to upscale their use. Action for Social Advancement (ASA) is working to enhance cultivation and use of minor millets in Madhya Pradesh to support climate change adaptation as part of a global initiative coordinated by Bioversity International. A holistic approach is being applied involving inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral initiatives along each segment of the value chain. The initiative is targeted at improving availability of quality seed to enhance yields, raising the price farmers receive for millet grain, and increasing consumer demand. Farmer producer companies (FPC) have been key in these efforts. Participatory selection and production of high quality millet seed have been organized, which the FPCs make available through their storefronts. To achieve a better price, aggregation and basic processing of millet has been organized by the FPCs to reduce the number of transactions between the farmers and consumers. Millet festivals have been organized in local villages and Bhopal to promote consumer interest in millets. Millet promotion in Madhya Pradesh is in the early stages but there are many emerging opportunities and growing interest for these climate hardy and nutritious grains.