Jammu, Feb 27: The Jammu and Kashmir government has approved an ambitious Rs 15 crore project to prop up nutri cereals besides promoting and enhancing millet production and consumption in the Union Territory.
The project, planned to be implemented over a period of three years, aims to promote the cultivation of millets, increase their value addition and generate entrepreneurship opportunities for farmers. The initiative also seeks to generate awareness regarding the nutritional value of millets, which are rich in proteins, micronutrients, and phytochemicals.
Millets are known as the “miracle grains” or “crops of the future” due to their resilience to climate change. They can grow in drought-prone areas and do not require large amounts of water or external inputs, making them an ideal crop for small-scale farmers in Jammu and Kashmir. It is also a dual-purpose crop, providing both food and fodder besides contributing to the economic efficiency of farming.
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in millets due to its numerous health benefits and the need to find sustainable solutions to food security challenges. Governments and organizations worldwide have started promoting millet as a nutritious, sustainable and affordable food option. The government of India is actively promoting the cultivation, processing and marketing of millets and in the past declared 2018 as the National Year of Millets. The United Nations General Assembly too, at the behest of the Government of India, has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets to raise awareness about the health benefits and sustainable production and consumption of millets.
“Despite growing awareness and popularity of millets, their production and consumption is still limited and there are several challenges that need to be addressed. One of the significant challenges is the lack of awareness and knowledge about millets among farmers and consumers”, said AtalDulloo, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture Production Department.
“Many farmers are still unaware of the benefits of millet cultivation and continue to struggle to cultivate high-input crops, resulting in depletion of soil fertility and water resources, these are the issues that this ambitious initiative seeks to address”, he added.
“Promotion of Nutri-Cereals (Millets) in Jammu and Kashmir” is one among the 29 projects, which were approved by the Jammu and Kashmir administration after being recommended by the UT Level Apex Committee for holistic development of Agriculture and allied sectors in UT of J&K. The prestigious committee is being headed by DrMangalaRai, Former DG ICAR and has other luminaries in the field of Agriculture, Planning, Statistics and Administration like Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA, Dr. P. K Joshi, Secretary, NAAS, Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Horticulture Commissioner MOA and FW, Dr. H. S Gupta, Former Director, IARI, AtalDulloo, Additional Chief Secretary, APD besides Vice Chancellors of twin Agriculture Universities of the UT.