Chittoor farmers in Andhra Pradesh turn to minor millet cultivation

Farmers in the undivided Chittoor district are taking measures to cultivate these millets as internal crops in more than 2,000 hectares, particularly in western parts.
growing demand for minor millets and the lucrative opportunity it presents for farmers to enhance their income.
growing demand for minor millets and the lucrative opportunity it presents for farmers to enhance their income. Photo | Express

CHITTOOR: Farmers in Chittoor district are turning to rainfed cultivation of minor millets, drawn by the low investment and reduced pest issues associated with these crops.

Farmers in the undivided Chittoor district are taking measures to cultivate these millets as internal crops in more than 2,000 hectares, particularly in western parts.

Officials of the agriculture department reported a surge in preparations for this type of cultivation during the monsoon season, highlighting the growing demand for minor millets and the lucrative opportunity it presents for farmers to enhance their income.

Officials are actively encouraging farmers to diversify their crop portfolios by incorporating minor millets.

Recommended rainfed minor crops include, horse gram, finger millet, green gram, black gram, red gram, sorghum, sesame, moth bean, pearl millet, foxtail millet, rice bean, soybean, ajwain, maize and coriander.

Assistant Director in Palamaner, Annapurna Devi, encouraged farmers to consider cultivating millets as an alternative to groundnut crops. She emphasised that farmers are unlikely to incur losses by growing small millets such as horse gram, red gram, sorghum and foxtail millet.

“Farmers can earn a steady income by cultivating these millets from the Kharif season onwards,” she said.

Annapurna Devi added that this shift could provide financial flexibility for farmers and noted a growing public interest in millet-based foods.

Another agriculture expert pointed out that groundnut cultivation requires an investment of Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per acre, with profits heavily dependent on rainfall and yield. As an alternative, she suggested intercropping horsegram with groundnuts.

“Horse gram is entirely rainfed and can be harvested after the groundnut crop, yielding an additional income of up to Rs 10,000 per acre,” the assistant director explained.

S Ramanaiah, a farmer from Palamaner division, said, “With minimal investment, we can earn up to Rs 20,000 per acre from maize cultivation.”

He noted that the crop requires water supply at least three times during the growing season and can be largely cultivated using rainwater.

He added, “We can expect a yield of about 35 quintals per acre. Additionally, the crop residue can be used as animal fodder, providing extra income.”

Another farmer, Shivalingam, said, “There’s a good market demand for black gram. The cultivation can begin from October, with a growing period of about 80 days.” Shivalingam noted that farmers can expect a yield of 8 to 10 quintals per acre, potentially earning up to Rs 90,000.

He also mentioned that black gram residue serves as excellent animal feed, offering additional benefits to farmers.

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