RAYAGADA: IN a bid to provide quality and nutritious food supplement enriched with iron, calcium and vitamins to the tribal residents, especially women and children, the Agriculture department has initiated steps to promote finger millet (mandia) cultivation with extensive use of modern technology in the district.
Sources said mandia was once consumed extensively by the tribals but with supply of PDS rice, its cultivation took a hit.
Owing to lack of demand, the tribals sold the cereal for a pittance in the market and later shifted to cultivation of other cash crops. Keeping this in view, the district administration had started Millet Mission in Gudari, Gunupur and Rayagada blocks last year. Five more blocks of the district have been identified for the promotion of mandia cultivation in the district under Odisha Millet Mission this year.
Sources said the Agriculture department under the mission has planned to procure at least 7,085 quintals of finger millet in the district this year. A sensitisation and training camp will be organised by the department to make farmers aware of modern cultivation techniques, quality production and fare average quality (FAQ). General Manager of Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation of Odisha Limited Ashok Kumar Patra said this year, the minimum support price (MSP) of mandia has been fixed at `2,897 per quintal. He said the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society (PACS) will collect FAQ mandia from eight mandis of RMC across the district.
Project Administrator of Integrated Tribal Development Agency, Rayagada, Tuku Barik said products like biscuits, cakes and other snacks will be prepared from the finger millet with the help of self-help groups in the district.