Uttar Pradesh is looking to increase the production of coarse grains or millets, which are regarded as healthier due to higher fibre and nutrition components.
The millet crops include jowar, bajra, kodo, sanwa etc, while UP is the second largest millet producing state.
The Yogi Adityanath government is taking steps to augment the acreage of millets by revitalising the indigenous crops under the rain fed farming system.
The state is aiming to increase the area of bajra from 980,000 hectares to over a million hectares. The productivity of bajra is targetted to jump from 24.55 quintal/hectare to 25.53 quintal/hectare.
Besides, the acreage of jowar will be increased from 215,000 hectares to 224,000 hectares. As such, the total area of the two major millet crops in UP will jump by nearly 4 percent.
The global market for millets is expanding due to the growing health consciousness of people and preference for healthier and organic whole grains, including millets.
The growing ecological concern has also tilted the tide in favour of millets since millets require less water for irrigation. These crops are generally resistant to the vagaries of nature such as flood, drought, pests etc.
In fact, millets are best suited for water deficit and drought conditions as they need 70 percent less water compared to other food grains. The requirement of farm inputs such as farm nutrients and pesticides is either nil or negligible with millets.
UP is also looking to tap the lucrative millet export market to provide a long term sustainable additional revenue channel to the state farmers.
While, UP accounts for 5 million tonnes (MT) of millets production, which is nearly 20 percent of the country’s annual output, India is the 5th largest millet exporter with shipments growing at a CAGR of 3 percent.
Interestingly, the UN, acting on India’s proposal, has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets.