Mysore/Mysuru: Millets are gaining ground as healthy options for those suffering from lifestyle diseases, whether it is diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, intestinal disorders or allergies towards gluten. “These were once poor man’s food and now loved by one and all including the super-rich, thanks to their nutritional and sustainability value,” said Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil.
Speaking after inaugurating the ‘Siri Dhanya Mela’ or millet festival organised at P. Kalinga Rao Mantapa in Karnataka Exhibition Grounds as part of the International Year of Millets in the city on Wednesday, the Minister said that millets have long been the staple food in the country.
But polished rice, processed sugar and other refined food products produced using chemical fertilisers have become part of daily life now, he regretted. The festival is being conducted in all the districts by the Department of Agriculture.
“With no alternative, people have got accustomed to such harmful food and in the process, getting health disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Millets are rich in vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc,” he said.
“The food we consume thinking of them as healthy has become toxic due to high use of chemical insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers and they lack nutrition. Hence the current focus is on organic food production besides thrust on millets to ensure nutritional security. Even farmers are benefiting from growing millets as the cultivation cost is low and they have high market value. These crops can be grown even under arid conditions,” Patil noted.
“The water required for rice and wheat crops in one year equates with water requirement of millets for 26-30 years. This single reason is good enough for scientists and farmers to have shifted to the cultivation of millets. Barren lands could be rehabilitated with natural farming of millets,” he said.
“The BJP Government is giving a boost for millet cultivation on a large scale and the Department of Agriculture was disbursing Rs. 10,000 per hectare for cultivating six types of millets. While many youngsters are abandoning agriculture and are migrating to cities in search of jobs, hundreds of progressive farmers in Karnataka, through innovations in agriculture, have proved that agriculture was lucrative and sustainable,” he said.
Complimenting farmers for ensuring food security by ensuring record growth in agricultural production, the Minister said there was a time when 38 crore people of the country could not be fed and India lacked food security and had to import food from other countries. “After the Green Revolution, India became self-sufficient in food and also exported food to other countries,” he noted.
Karnataka Exhibition Authority Chairman Mirle Srinivasa Gowda, Deputy Mayor Dr. G. Roopa, Department of Agriculture Joint Director Dr. B.S. Chandrashekar, Mysore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President K.B. Lingaraju, progressive farmers Dilip Kumar, Madhu Kishore Hegde and Kallahalli Shivakumar were present on the occasion.