The Finger Millet is mostly grown by the tribal farmers of Koraput as it can withstand drought and can be grown in marginal and infertile soil. Finger Millet serves as the important food for nutritional security as it is rich in nutrients and easy to process as compared to the other millets. The best attribute of Finger Millet is that it has excellent keep qualities. The varietal diversity of a crop is considered to be an important contributor to the resilience of the concerned farming system. Dasamantpur site is already facing climate change-induced weather-related issues such as late-onset of monsoon, dry spell within the crop period, heavy rains during harvest, and early withdrawal of monsoon. Varietal diversity at the household is expected to play an important role in adapting to these conditions.
It was observed through the Survey, that there was a lack of finger millet varietal diversity at the household farm level in Dasamantpur. Only three households were found with two varieties of finger millet each, though there were a total of twelve known varieties cultivated among the sample households.
The existing finger millet varieties may be broadly classified under two heads, viz. i) released varieties and ii) local varieties. The two released varieties existing among the sample households are Bhairabiand ML-365. Similarly, nine local Bada Mandia,Bagachada, Bhalu Mandia,Jana Mandia, Jam Mandia,Kadaligada, Mami mandia,Modai maskuli, and Basgoti.
(Figure: The proportion of Finger Millet Variety, area and no. of farmers)
Around 65.38 percent of finger millet farmers were using released varieties. This is due to the Odisha Millet Mission & NFSM (Nutri-Cereals) intervention in this study area. The remaining farmers were cultivating local varieties. The category of varieties grown by 8.82 percent of the farmers could not be identified. Among the released varieties, ML-365was found to be the dominant one (34.31 percent farmers). Moreover, the adoption of released varieties was found to be widespread across the landholding categories.
Number of farmers, area covered and varieties wise of finger millets:(100 respondents)
Sources of the seed of finger millet:
It is observed that most of the farmers in the sample used department supplied seeds (65.38 percent). The second source of seed was found to be farmer saved seeds (34.62 percent).
The productivity of finger millet:
The analysis of the productivity of Finger Millet is important to understand the factors behind the difference in productivity among the sample households. An analysis based on the area of landholding, the variety was undertaken, the number of farmers, the average yield, and the method of planting to understand the productivity situation in Dasamantpur.
Figure: Proportion of average yield and the method of agronomic practices)
In this, it is seen that most of the sample households were using Bhairabi variety and with this variety, they had followed(28% sample households) the system of Millet Intensification(SMI) agronomic practices. Bhairabi variety performance was accepted by the farmers as it was giving a promising average yield of 4.98 quintal/acre and due to its special character i.e. Non-lodging and good in taste. Other local variety like Madai Muskul and Basgoti average yield found to be 6 quintals/acre but it is not considered as the sample size is only 6 and 1 respectively.
Participatory Varietal Trial of Finger Millet:
Participatory Varietal Trial was conducted under Odisha Millet Mission by DHAN Foundation. In every plot of the demonstration, the same agronomic practices were followed. Farmers participated in this trial and given their feedbacks and views depending upon the yield, colour, taste, duration, plant height, size of the grains and market demand.
This PVT will definitely help in preserving the seed variety good in every aspect. As seen in the study, the local finger millet varieties are vanishing day by day. We need to preserve the local varieties of Finger Millet.