“Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in Tribal Areas of Odisha” (Odisha Millets Mission)- Reviving Millets on Farm to Plates. It is a flagship programme supported by the Department of Agriculture & Food Production, (Govt of Odisha) to promote millets. It was launched in Sundargarh district in the year 2018-19. The programme initially covered 4 blocks, that is, Nuagaon, Kuarmunda, Rajgangpur and Kutra, which was gradually extended to another 4 blocks (Lephripada, Hemgir, Tangarpali & Balisankara) with financial assistance from District Mineral Foundation, Sundargarh.
The programme covers all aspects of millet ecosystem that includes production, consumption, processing, marketing and inclusion of millets in State Nutrition Programmes.
Ragi Ladoos for Pre-School Children
The objectives of the Millet Mission:
Improving the productivity of Millet crops to secure household level surplus.
Setting up of decentralized processing facilities for easy access to processed millets.
Promoting Household-level consumption to increase food and nutrition security.
Promoting farmer collectives and marketing to further the millet economy with a focus on women entrepreneurs.
Inclusion of millets in the State Nutrition Programme and Public Distribution System.
The success of Odisha Millets Mission owes to its unique design of programme delivery involving various stakeholders like Government agencies, Civil Society Organisations, Community Based Organisations and Academic institutions. In Sundargarh, 8 Community-Based Organisations have been implementing the programme with the support of 6 Facilitating NGOs.
The Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Sundargarh acts as the nodal organisation for implementation of the programme at the district level. The State Secretariat for Odisha Millets Mission is hosted at Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS), a social science research institute situated at Bhubaneswar. The State Secretariat comprises of Programme Secretariat and Research Secretariat anchored by WASSAN and NCDS respectively.
In the first year of implementation (2018-19), millet (exclusively Ragi) was cultivated in 600 Hectares benefitting 1405 farmers in 4 blocks of the district. During 2019-20, 930 Hectares of millet was cultivated including Ragi, Little Millet, Foxtail Millet and Sorghum involving 2820 farmers. A surplus of around 500 quintals of Ragi was procured from farmers in the Kharif Marketing Season 2018-19 which increased 4 folds to just above 2000 quintals in Kharif Marketing Season 2019-20.
Procurement of Surplus Ragi from the Farmers
The millets, owing to its nutritional benefits, climate resilience characteristics and nostalgic sentiments about the grain being attached with their tribal culture have added to the other incentives provided by the programme to encourage farmers to cultivate and consume millets. The positive feedbacks from the agrarian community and successful implementation of the programme paved the way for an expansion of the scheme to 4 additional blocks with support from District Mineral Foundation, Sundargarh from 2020-21.
In a series of discussions at State level regarding utilization of the Ragi procured from farmers it was proposed that Ragi, for its nutritional values should be included in the ICDS using DMF and OMBADC funds, based on which the pilot programme for introducing Ragi Ladoo for pre-school children in Anganwadis Centres of Sundargah the district was planned.
Ragi is extremely nutritious millet rich in Calcium(344 mg), Protein(7.3 gm), Fibre(3.6 gm), Iron(3.9 mg), Good carbohydrate(72 gms), and other essential minerals. In the process of hulling, the nutrition content of ragi is not lost. Hence, this is an excellent grain for the children.
About the Project:
The project envisages supplementing the nutritional requirements of pre-school children (3 to 6 years) enrolled in the Anganwadi Centres of the district. Each child shall be provided with 4 Ragi Ladoos per week comprising of 10.5 gms of Ragi in each Ladoo.
The existing WSHGs engaged as the THR (Take Home Ration) making units or Chhatua Units in each ICDS project area, promoted by Mission Shakti (W&CD Dept, Govt of Odisha) shall be trained to prepare and supply the Ragi Ladoo Mix to the Anganwadi Centres.
The Anganwadi helpers shall make ladoos out of the Ragi Ladoo Mix and provide to the children. As Anganwadi Centres are closed in the present pandemic situation, the Ragi Ladoo Mix is packaged and supplied to the beneficiaries’ home on a monthly basis.
The project, supported by DMF, Sundargarh is a joint initiative involving 2 agencies, that is, Odisha Millets Mission (Directorate of Agriculture & Food Production, Odisha) & Mission Shakti / ICDS (Dept of Women & Child Development and Mission Shakti, Odisha).
Odisha Millets Mission shall ensure enhancement in millet production in the district and thereby the availability of surplus Ragi in procurement Mandis. They shall also provide machinery required for cleaning, grading and destoning ragi grains to the selected WSHGs. Two WSHGs in the district have been empanelled as the cleaning units, which shall clean the ragi grains using the machinery and supply to the various Chhatua Units for preparation of Ragi Ladoo Mix. The project shall be implemented in a phased manner.
Preparation of the First batch of Ragi Ladoo Mix by Jyoti SHG of Bileimunda, Hemgir Block
The first phase was inaugurated by the Minister of WCD&Mission Shakti on 15th August 2020 in which about 3000 children of Hemgir project were covered. From November 2020, the second phase shall be launched in 5 project areas (primarily urban) and in the third phase, starting from January 2020 all 21 project areas are planned to be covered.
Distribution of Ragi Ladoo mix by the Honourable Minister WCD & Mission Shakti to beneficiaries in the Inaugural Ceremony.
This initiative was jointly undertaken by Odisha Millets Mission & Mission Shakti, with support from DMF, Sundargarh and Sundargarh District Administration has exemplified how convergence among different agencies have successfully revived the journey of a once-neglected the Nutri-cereal grain on-farm to plates and thus this initiative will address the Nutritional Security.
Author:Arpan Das, District Project Coordinator, WASSAN, Odisha Millet Mission