This is the third year of promoting Finger Millet in the region. Previous year 126 farmers harvested finger millet which had a good impact on the local population. Being a drought resistant crop, around 400 farmer bought seeds and 126 could harvest 3.4 tons (confirmed data). Previous year the rainfall was quite low, due to which the rice cultivation was a complete failure. But finger millet survived the dry conditions and returned quite a good amount of produce. We witnessed very clearly, how finger millet survived when rice could not even give any return. You can see the photograph of a field where millet and rice was cultivated together but the result was quite astonishing.
This is evidence, which we are now using to motivate our farmers to restart this traditional drought resistant crop this year. We have developed a small 4 minutes movie to promote finger millet among local population. We have completed millet recipe demonstration in 30 villages which was to promote millet as a nutritious diet in rural area. Millet recipe demonstration has influenced a large number of women and men to restart the crop and use it as a major food.
Due to extreme heat during April and May, our common promotional programmes were not very successful as bringing people together was very difficult. Therefore we thought to do the promotion in each village separately.
Photographs of promotional programmes:
People have been very responsive to finger millet compared to previous year. We are half way through the promotion and see a lot of interest among people. I think more than 500 farmers will be ready to cultivate finger millet this time. Not only this but some of the farmers from our villages are requesting Pearl millet and Great millet seeds which are traditional drought resistant crops. It is an amazing experience of the project to see the interest of so many farmers to restart these traditional crops. It is a major behaviour change among people in two to three years of time. They are not only talking about the drought resistance capacity of these crops but now they know the high nutritional components in these crops.
As we know only knowledge will not bring behaviour change but knowledge with repeated action is required to bring change in behaviour, we are ensuring that families eat millet. And this effort has brought some amount of success this year. One of the evidence which made our team feel so happy was the response of our farmers who don’t want to sell millet but want to keep it for food. Recently, we wanted to buy 2 quintals of finger millet from our target area. When we asked some of our farmers who had more than 50 kg production, whether they want to sell some amount,they refused saying that they want to eat. These same farmers two years back were asking if they cultivate finger millet where can they sell it and complaining about the unavailability of market, now don’t want to sell. This is a major behaviour change among some of the families regarding consumption of finger millet we have experienced.
This year we are doing our best to promote this crop as the condition seems to be drought. If they don’t get anything else, some amount of finger millet can be produced. This will not only secure their food for some months but also add to their nutritional needs during drought.
We are also looking for pearl millet and great millet seeds to make available for our farmers. We will be continuing this through the coming months and would update about the progress.
Harvest of finger millet did not end the millet promotion activity for this year. People of our villages have long forgotten most of their own indigenous recipes. As we are promoting finger millet as a drought resistant and highly nutritious crop, we needed to make sure that Finger Millet getting into their mainstream food. We had already developed a recipe book for the community but most of the women could not follow the instructions given in the booklet as they could not read. Hence, we decided to do community based demonstration of millet recipes.
Yesterday, for the first time we demonstrated finger millet recipe in one of the hamlets of Champi village. 16 women participated in the programme and showed great interest to learn some of the recipes. It was a great time for us in helping them to cook and learn and it was also an opportunity for us to strengthen relationships with the community. This was the first demo in village and we would be doing it in all the 30 villages in coming months.
There are some of the photographs of the event, have a look….Thanks…
Once again, it’s time for me to share with you about the wonder crop (Finger Millet) that I had already shared in two of my posts in the past. As I had shared that last year we were able to encourage 46 farmers to restart the traditional crop, this year also we have been able to keep up the work.
In the beginning of the monsoon we were able to promote the crop in quite a big manner. We promoted it in different occasions in the area which was quite successful and 433 farmers (360 from the project area) bought finger millet seeds made available by the project. Out of them around 300 farmers did nursery and eventually, 133 farmers were able to harvest the crop this year.
Our expectation was obviously higher but 46 farmers last year to 133 farmers this year is a good indicator for the project to see the outcome. In 30 villages the production till now is 2.18 tons and we are yet to get the data from some more farmers.
But at the end of all this, it’s not the statistics but the fact that farmers are restarting this crop is important to us. Here, where their major crop like rice failed terribly due to low rainfall; finger millet has given them good yield. Harvest of finger millet would definitely contribute to their food and nutritional security this year but most importantly it will help them to understand the importance of adaptation in current situation. Farmers are improving their resilience by adopting drought resistant crops could be the key success for the community and for us as well.
It is a small move towards our goal but a beautiful beginning to help increase resilience of community towards rapid climate change. Increased trust of the beneficiaries would lead us to support the community more effectively in the adaptation process through coming days.
There are few photographs of this year cultivation and harvest, have a look…. God Bless….
[ I take this opportunity to acknowledge Dr. Jeevan Kuruvilla, our former Project Director for his huge effort and interest towards this cause ]
Finger Millet is one of the most precious gifts from God to the Human kind, said Dr. Haider, Professor, Birsa Agriculture University (BAU), Ranchi. The capacity to resist drought and its high nutritious values make this a wonder crop in drought prone areas in fighting food insecurity and malnutrition.
I had mentioned previously that we were able to help 46 farmers restart the crop previous year. This year we got more than 300 requests for finger millet seed from our project area. We found there were so many other people interested to restart Finger Millet outside our target villages too. As we had around 300 farmers to cultivate finger millet this year, we had organized an interface meeting with BAU on 17th where Prof. Haider addressed the farmers. Prof. Haider shared some important information on Finger Millet and its significance in the region. Following this, we had a question- answer session with farmers where they discussed their difficulties in millet cultivation and about different methods of Finger Millet cultivation.
This was a good beginning before monsoon and would help many farmers to restart the crop and motivate many others in the region also. Many realized that Finger Millet is not just one of the other crops but it is a crop with extreme significance for this region. This is a beautiful beginning but we hope to see the result in the field, villages and families through coming years.
We are not only trying to promote food and nutritional security among this drought affected region but also to help bring this traditional crop back to the mainstream. This is not just a crop but a wonder crop.
These are some of the photographs of the interface meeting:
The World is vastly dependant on agriculture for food production and in a country like India; it is the main source of livelihood for rural population. Since independence, India has experienced a lot of changes and achieved many things in the area of agriculture. One of the most popular changes is the Green Revolution. The green revolution contributed to widespread poverty reduction, averted hunger for millions of people, and avoided the conversion of thousands of hectares of cultivable land for other development purposes. . But the lesser known fact is that it also has left many communities at enormous loss with poverty, food insecurity and different health issues. It was started with keeping in mind the human need, the growing population with their limited land but what it failed to think was about the environment, water, soil and other natural resources and most importantly the sustainability factor. Even though it was human focused it also failed to provide food and better health for all.
Green revolution introduced high-yielding varieties of seeds and increase use of fertilizers and irrigation for more production and it has definitely helped us in many things in short run but in long run it has become a threat to the future of both humans and the earth.
As it requires a lot of irrigation, it is not suitable for all the regions in our country. It is a curse for communities who depend on rainwater for irrigation. Irrigation technologies have been developed which are not sustainable and increased use of underground water will leave us in a tragic state in few years. It is making some communities more vulnerable and susceptible to disasters and water crisis and hence poorer than they were. Green revolution which is not inclusive has increased poverty level of many farmers, as poor farmers could not afford high variety seeds, fertilizers and machinery. It has forced farmers to borrow and left many with huge debts causing suicide and high rates of rural to urban migration.
Due to the heavy chemical fertilizer inputs, land quality has gone down and yield has suffered.
Increase use of pesticide has made pests more resistant to many pesticides causing increase in pest attack.
Due to increase use of chemical pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers we have lost many birds and friendly insects and this can result in long term loss.
Chemicals used in agriculture are contaminating the groundwater and the chemical content in the food has affected general health. Consumption of one or two variety of food may provide us calories but can’t fulfill the requirement of micronutrients which are essential for human beings.
We are losing our vast varieties of traditional seeds due to the introduction of high yield seeds and many traditional crops have disappeared due to high concentration on wheat and rice,
Due to improper technological development farmers have been losing their indigenous methods of adapting to climate change which have made communities more vulnerable and less resilient.
So it is the time for us to think of a better solution. What can give us a sustainable future from which both humans and nature would benefit?
There are a lot of initiatives that have been taken by the government and NGOs, but none of their attempts seem to be solving the problem in recent future. Organic farming has been a solution and it has been implemented in some regions and seems to be successful. Organic farming may solve the issue of pesticides and fertilizers but how far can it solve the issue of irrigation and natural resource management? What can give us a future without compromising with nature?
The Earth is rich and has tremendous capacity to meet the human need and it has been providing too. But since the past two centuries, we have been facing lot of problems and threats from climate. Nature has its own management process but we are trying to manipulate. It is the time to look back at how our ancestors lived their lives and how they adapted to climate and saved the earth for us to live. So it is time for us to go back to the traditional crops which might have the answers to our problems and can save the earth for future generations. There are some traditional crops which have tremendous capacity to adapt to the climatic condition and do not require much input like fertilizer, pesticide and irrigation. One of the categories can be Millet.
Photographs of some types of millets traditionally grown in India:
Millets need very little water for their production. Thus, they do not burden the state with demands for irrigation or power. Millet does not demand for subterranean water and can contribute to sustainable agriculture in our country.
Millets are adapted to a wide range of ecological conditions often growing on very thin soils. It does not demand rich soils for their survival and growth. Hence, they are a boon for the vast dry land areas.
It can provide livelihood to small farmers at the same time focus on ecological preservation. Millet production is not dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers. Most millet farmers therefore use farmyard manures and in recent times, household produced bio-fertilizers. Therefore, they can significantly reduce the huge burden of fertilizer usage.
Grown under traditional methods, no millet attracts any pest. A majority of them are not affected by storage pests either. Therefore, their need for pesticides is close to nil. Thus, they are a great help to the agricultural environment.
Millets are amazing in their nutrition content. Each of the millets is three to five times nutritionally superior to the widely promoted rice and wheat in terms of proteins, minerals and vitamins.
Comparison of Millets with rice and wheat:
All these qualities of millet farming system make them the climate change compliant crops. Climate change portends less rain, more heat, reduced water availability and increased malnutrition. If there is any cropping system that can withstand these challenges, survive and flourish, it is the millet system.
While wheat and rice might provide only food security, millets produce multiple securities (food, fodder, health, nutrition, livelihood and ecological) making them the crops of agricultural security and future of our agriculture.
Millet is the answer which can give us a sustainable future from which both human and nature will benefit. This can be answer for us and our future generations, making a sustainable, rich and healthy planet and millet can be an answer for today and tomorrow…..
Last year we were quite successful in bringing back finger millet in our target area, where 46 farmers harvested finger millet. This year there are around 300 farmers have registered to cultivate finger millet. As the region is drought prone, millet can be an answer for them to solve the issue of food insecurity and malnutrition. It can contribute to livelihood, food security and availability of fodder for animals. Its capacity to grow with minimum water makes it one of the appropriate crops for the region and as there is no need for fertilizer and pesticide it can be the savior for farmers with low economic status. Millet is the answer for this region and can be for our country……. Along with promotion of organic farming, bringing back the millet to the mainstream agriculture can be the best options for Indian agriculture system in the long run.
We had organized a Block level agricultural Exhibition on 19th February. The main objective was to help bridge the information gap among farmers and help them to build a meaningful network with agricultural society and institutions. As many farmers lack knowledge on alternative farming’s, latest technology and government schemes and policies related to agriculture, the programme was very useful for them. Through this, we were able to establish links between government departments/ institutions and farmers.
30 farmers had brought agricultural products for the exhibition.
During the event we had put a stall to sell some readymade finger millet products in order to promote finger millet in the region. Finger millet is one of the traditional crop used to be cultivated in the region before the green revolution in India. After this many Indian farmers gradually stopped millet cultivation and shifted to rice and wheat cultivation. Green revolution helped us to somehow deal with the issue of food insecurity but it left many other communities especially drought prone regions to starve or migrate. Finger Millet can be one of the best agricultural options for this community, because it will contribute to both food security and nutrition in the area.
Last year 46 farmers had restarted finger millet cultivation and this year we have got lot of positive responses from farmers that they are very interested to start finger millet cultivation. As people are forgetting finger millet and its worth, we are trying our best to bring this back to the mainstream agricultural society. Thus, Finger millet being a drought resistant crop would contribute to both of our purposes – food security and nutrition.
Finger millet food stall – selling of Idly, Poori and Noodles
Finger millet biscuits at the stall
During the exhibition we had organized a question- answer session between farmers and scientists from Agricultural Research Center. In this, farmers asked many practical questions to scientists on agricultural development and regarding the problems that they are facing in day to day agricultural activities. The session was very informative and useful for many farmers as it was the best chance for them to have an open interaction with scientists from research institutes.
Scientist from research institute responding to a question
A farmer asking a question
A farmer receiving prize
At the end some of the farmers were awarded by our organisation for their best effort and result in previous year agriculture. The award ceremony was very encouraging for farmers as it was a public recognition for their wonderful contribution to the field of agriculture and food security.
This is a brief post on the event, God willing; I would bring you many more event posts about what we do.
"He brought me to his banquet hall and raised the banner of love over me. Restore my strength with raisins and refresh me with apples! I am weak from passion... His left hand is under my head and his right hand caresses me" - Song of Solomon 2:4-6