Methods and Best Practices for enhancing the use of Nutritious Small Millets in India
Poster on holistic value chain upgrading for minor millets in Tamil Nadu carried out by MSSRF and Bioversity International under the IFAD-NUS Programme presented at the 1st International Agrobiodiversity Congress in New Delhi November 2016
Despite significant progress in its Gross Domestic Product, India is among the countries with the most malnourished children, thus facing a significant nutrition challenge. Micronutrient deficiency in infants and young children can lead to impaired psychomotor development, coordination and scholastic achievement, as well as reduced physical activity. Small millets (Eleusine, Setaria, Panicum, Paspalum) are sources of micro nutrients such as calcium, iron, and folic acid, in addition to being climate hardy crops. The most popular minor millet across India is finger millet, which is cultivated over nearly 1.6 million hectares with annual production of 2.4 million tonnes and productivity of around 1,534 kg/ha. The area under other minor millets is slightly smaller (1.1 million ha) with notably lower productivity (635 kg/ha; 0.7 million tonnes/year). The area under minor millet cultivation in India has significantly decreased since the 1950s, which is ascribed to a number of agronomic and socioeconomic aspects:Lack of suitable improved varieties and cultivation practices, poor extension systems for yield enhancement and crop promotion, lack of specific postharvest and processing technologies forsmall users, low economic competiveness, poorly organized value chains, lack of attractive, modern food recipes, and insufficientawareness of nutritional value and income opportunities. With the support of IFAD and Bioversity International, these challenges were addressed in a holistic ‘7C’ approach over the last decade, involving custodian farmer communities, State government, research and development institutions, and the private sector. This presentation shares experience of applying 7C holistic approach: Chronicling, Conservation, Cultivation, Consumption, Commerce, Collectives and Communication.