RAYAGADA:With an aim to curb Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Mother Mortality Rate (MMR), the District Agriculture Office has planned a special millet pilot project programme in the district.
To be launched in the current crop year in four blocks of Rayagada, Gunupur, Gudari and Chandrapur, the department will promote cultivation of Finger Millet (Mandia), Great Millet (Jowar) , Italian Millet (Kangu), Little Millet (Suan) and Koda Millet (Kodua).
Sources said cultivation of millets, which used to be produced in large quantities, had come down drastically due to lack of marketability, which forced the farmers to sell the produce at distress prices. This gradually discouraged the cultivators, who opted for cash crops.
Taking note of the demand for millets, the State Government decided to promote millet cultivation in Rayagada district with support from Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS) and Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), an NGO. They will be providing marketing support and value added service to farmers with the supervision of Agriculture department.
Scheme Officer-cum-Assistant Agriculture Officer Narashima Behera said millets will be cultivated in 1,000 acres in each selected block and after studying the success, the project will implemented in other blocks of the district, he added.
The NCDS and WASSAN, with the help of Agriculture department, plan to provide the tribals with a source of income through the project, Behera added.
Locally produced millets have high nutrition content and are rich in iron and calcium which are needed for a pregnant woman, said Rayagada Collector Guha Punam Tapas Kumar. The department, along with partner NGOs, will initiate steps to create awareness on the benefits of millet in the tribal populated district, she added. Deputy Director, Agriculture, Rabindranath Khuntia said the department also plans to promote traditional way of cultivation (organic cultivation) in Rayagada and Kashipur blocks of the district from this year for all types of crops.