A number of health-conscious restaurants across the globe are now looking beyond chia seeds and quinoa for superfood options. Millets, long known and hailed as a wonder grain across India and other Asian and African countries, are slowly coming to the notice of food experts across the world.
No longer considered an old fashioned grain, millets are now enjoying a new renaissance with health and environmentally conscious people increasingly turning to this ancient family of grains. Often acknowledged as a wonder grain, millets are gluten-free and contain lower carbohydrate content than rice, corn or wheat, and have higher levels of protein, fibre and minerals. In addition, millets are great for the environment as they have a low water and carbon footprint, and can weather climate change conditions.
Showcasing Karnataka’s millet and organic initiatives
The Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, is organising a three-day-long Organics & Millets 2017, National Trade Fair from April 28 to April 30, 2017 at Tripura Vasini, Palace Grounds, Bengaluru.
“We want to put Karnataka on a national level for collaborations and make a dent in the national millet market,” said Karnataka Agriculture Minister, Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, speaking to the media ahead of the event.
Co-organisers include the Karnataka State Agricultural Produce Processing & Export Development Corporation Ltd (KAPPEC), IIMR, State Agricultural Universities, State Departments of Horticulture, Forestry, Sericulture, Veterinary Sciences, and the International Competence Centre of Organic Agriculture (ICCOA) is the Knowledge Partners for this event.
Through this campaign, the organisers aim to showcase the organic and millet production potential of the state and increase the popularity of the grain across the country, by building a centralised connection between farmers and other stakeholders such as retailers, bulk marketers, processors and exporters.
One of the main mottos of the event is regional promotion and marketing of organic produce and millets, and positioning of organic farming as a profitable venture
According to Shri Byre Gowda, the market for organic products in India has crossed Rs 4,500 crore, with exports at Rs 3,500 crore and domestic consumption at Rs. 1,000 crore. This figure is expected to reach Rs 10,000 crore by 2020.
Karnataka is the first state in India to have an organic farming policy. Some measures taken by the state include certification of organic farmers, roping in NGOs to work with farmers on organic cultivation, and creating organic farmer federations which directly connect farmers with retail companies, reducing the role of middlemen, and giving them higher prices
“We want to build a bridge between manufacturers and retailers, which will act as an eye-opener for products, structuring the business, composition and business modules. In addition we want to give purchasing and distribution opportunities for everyone,” said Shri Byre Gowda.
Millets- Reviving the Smart Grain
With greater focus on organic produce, there is an automatic focus on millets, which are increasingly acknowledged as a superfood with versatile benefits. Millets are highly nutritious, and need minimal water and chemicals during cultivation. They can be grown in drylands with low rainfall, and are low-input cost and low -risk crops for farmers. They are termed as the last standing crop in times of drought. Despite this, the consumption and cultivation of millets have been on the decline, greatly due to a lack of awareness around them.
Today, Karnataka is one of the leading producers and consumers of millets in the country. In production, it stands third after Maharashtra and MP, with 2.01 million hectares under cultivation, and ragi, jowar and pearl millet being the main crops. It also stands at the top of the market with a huge demand for millets.
The state government’s initiatives to revive the millets production in the state include:
However, unless millet consumption increases, farmers will not get any sizeable benefits from the cultivation. The Karnataka government has been conducting several awareness programmes on millets in all major cities in the state in the form of:
“This national trade fair is an opportunity to further increase awareness and to take the message national. We hope to create more demand for millets to provide better incomes for millet farmers. We are striving to connect millet farmers directly with retail companies so as to increase price realisation for farmers,” said Shri Byre Gowda.
Widespread reach to the common man is one of the primary focuses of the fair which is open to the general public on all three days.
What can you expect at the event
The fair will be inaugurated by Shri. Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka, in the presence of Shri. Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Shri. Krishna Byre Gowda on April 28, 2017.
A national conference and exposition about opportunities in agriculture and horticulture, processing and marketing is one of the key attractions. Around 30-40,000 farmers, traders, processors, exporters, consumers and general public are scheduled to attend this event, and more than 200 companies have confirmed their participation.
The event will bring together farmers, buyers, sellers, exporters and consumers, as well as organic product processors, manufacturers of farm equipment and other stakeholders on a single platform for knowledge sharing, exploring business opportunities, networking and promoting investments.
Events and sessions at the 2017 National Trade Fair – Organics & Millets
▪ An exhibition with participation of more than 200 global companies showcasing a variety of organic products, millets and millet-based foods, eco-friendly products and processing machinery and equipment.
▪ Knowledge-sharing sessions with eminent national and international speakers including Dr. Tej Pratap, Former VC, Sher E Kashmir, University of Agriculture & Technology; Lynette Abbott, UWA Institute of Agriculture, Perth, Australia; Dr. N Devakumar, Professor, UAS, Bangalore; H N Jayaram, Founder, Greenpath, Bangalore; and Dr. Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General (Research –ICRISAT). The delegates will speak on a variety of topics including:
Additionally, the event will all have special farmer workshop sessions in Kannada on organic and millet production. More than 3,000 farmers have confirmed their participation for the workshop.
The last mile: Reaching out to the consumers
An organic food court at the event will offer a number of dishes made with millets and other organic ingredients, which will enable people to experience first-hand the benefits of consuming millets, and increase their understanding about the journey of the grain. This is an effort to influence them to change their food habits and lifestyle.
A Consumer Connect Programme is also being planned to create general awareness on organic food and its relevance to food safety, health and environment. Various programmes will be held at as part of this, including cooking demonstrations, millet cooking competitions, free consultation by dieticians and nutritional experts and special talks by renowned dieticians emphasising the role of safe food.
Millet Maga and Millet Magalu
As part of its mission to broaden the reach of millet consumers, the Karnataka government has also created the mascots of Millet Maga and Millet Magalu, the next gen boy and girl from the state.
In a fun and informative campaign aimed at the younger demographic, both Millet Maga and Millet Magalu are endowed with superpowers that help them save the planet, help farmers, become smarter, stronger and healthier - everything courtesy the wonder food millets that they consume in various tasty avatars.
The National Trade Fair – Organics & Millets 2017 -- is being organised by the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka, Karnataka State Agricultural Produce Processing and Export Corporation Limited (KAPPEC), State Agricultural Universities and Jaivik Krishik Society on April 28-30. Click here for more details
YourStory is a partner for this event.