A panchayat in Kerala has taken up a major farming project to produce millets on a large scale and set up Millet Kitchen to make millet-based dishes like idli, dosa and even biryani for promoting better health.
Kottuvalli grama panchayat in Ernakulam has initiated steps to undertake millet farming in 35 acres of land and set up “Millet Adukkala” (kitchen) to make millet-based dishes. Officials said the panchayat decided to promote millet farming in a big way as part of the declaration of the year 2023 as International Year of Small Grains by World Health Organization (WHO).
Though the panchayat has been traditionally known for Pokkali rice farming, the residents decided to cultivate millets after farming of millets done in three to four acres of land on a trial basis turned out to be a success.
“A group of farmers have already started cultivating millets after it started gaining popularity due to their health benefits and sustainability. The panchayat located along the coastline in Ernakulam has been facing numerous challenges due to climate change and water scarcity. However, cultivation of millets, known to be resilient crops that require less water, has turned out to be a hit,” said Kottuvalli Krishibhavan agricultural officer S K Shinu.
He said more people have come forward to cultivate different varieties of millets on a larger scale realising its potential. “The Krishibhavan is not only supporting the cultivation of millets but also helping the farmers to set up the millet Adukkala to promote consumption of millet -based dishes. We have found that the soil in the area is best suited for millet farming,” Shinu added.
A detailed action plan has been prepared by the panchayat and Krishibhavan to make value-added food products from millets produced locally by the farmers. “We have already entered into a tie up with a couple of NGOs for processing the millets farmed locally in the panchayat. We aim to promote sustainable agriculture and empower the local people. Through the project, the panchayat aims to become one of the largest millet producers in the state,” said a senior panchayat official.