BENGALURU: The Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission has recommended to the State government to include millets in the midday meal scheme to encourage farmers growing millets and to provide nutritious food to schoolchildren. The commission, in its report submitted to the government on Tuesday, recommended that foodgrains for distribution under the public distribution system (PDS) be procured directly from farmers in the state.
Millet production in the state is around 42,000 tonnes on 61,000 hectares and it needs to be encouraged further, the report stated and added that the State Government should announce an MSP of Rs 4,500-5,000 per quintal, considering the production cost.
“To encourage millet farmers, the government should directly procure it from them and include it in the midday meal scheme for children and food kits provided to expectant and lactating mothers,” the report said. Every year, 55 lakh tonnes of paddy, 13 lakh tonnes of ragi and 10 lakh tonnes of jowar are grown in the state, and under the Centre’s various schemes under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 30.38 lakh tonnes foodgrains are distributed to 5.10 crore beneficiaries.
Foodgrains required for distribution under PDS can be procured from farmers in the state and there is a need for a comprehensive policy to strengthen the system. “It is a win-win for all. It will help farmers, agricultural industries and also reduce transportation cost,” Commission Chairman Hanumanagouda Belagurki told TNIE.
Since the Centre’s procurement policy is “open-ended”, the State Government should open procurement centres every 5 km, procure foodgrains required for distribution under PDS from farmers, to make MSP schemes farmer-friendly by doing away with restrictions on the quantity imposed on each farmer and increase the allocation for revolving funds, the commission’s report stated.