Two years on, Tamil Nadu Millet Mission yet to take off in Perambalur, say farmers
The acreage so far for 2023-24 is 152 hectares, which farmers said is unlikely to improve by a significant extent.
PERAMBALUR: Two years have passed since the first Agriculture Budget unveiled the Tamil Nadu Millet Mission to ‘enhance’ millet production in the state but farmers in Perambalur – which figures in the list of districts under the mission’s ‘millet zones’ -- say that the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department is yet to take any concrete measures, like raising awareness on subsidy and support price, to improve the dwindling cultivation.
While millet varieties such as Kodo, pearl, barnyard, foxtail, ragi and sorghum are cultivated in the district, data from the agriculture department showed the crop cultivation to have covered 445 hectares of farmland in 2021-22 and 269 hectares in 2022-23. The acreage so far for 2023-24 is 152 hectares, which farmers said is unlikely to improve by a significant extent.
A lack of awareness on where to buy seed varieties, crop procurement price, subsidy, etc led to the acreage decline, farmers said. A petition was even submitted to the agriculture department last year seeking it to raise awareness on millets, they added. T Nallappan, a farmer from Perali, said, "I cultivated sorghum for six years. It, however, did not fetch good profit even though I harvested it myself and sold it to traders.
Last year 10 people, including me, cultivated millets in our village. This year, we didn’t do so as we have to cultivate and sell it ourselves. Also, the sorghum I harvested last year is yet to be sold. We have been using it for personal use only." While pointing to how the year is projected as the International Year of Millets globally, he said the millet mission is mere eyewash in Perambalur.
Another farmer, S Murugan of Ayinapuram, said, "Farmers don’t come forward to cultivate millets because we have no support from the government. Millet acreage can be increased only if the government procures the crop directly and when awareness is raised among farmers."
When contacted, Agriculture Joint Director (Perambalur in-charge) C Geetha told TNIE, "I raise awareness on millets in every meeting and training. This year we expect millet cultivation to be covered over 500 hectares. The seeds are made available to farmers at the agricultural extension centres."