Buoyed by several events taking place in the country to promote millets, the Food Ministry has asked States to procure more such nutri cereals, for which it has set a target of 7.5 lakh tonnes (lt) during 2022-23 (October-September), of which Karnataka alone will buy 6 lt (5 lt of ragi and 1 lt jowar).

The procurement of nutri and coarse cereals was 6.30 lt during 2021-22. The procurement in the current year since October 1, 2022 has reached 2.63 lt — including 1.36 lt of ragi and 1.25 lt of bajra, as on March 1.

“All the States were asked to open procurement centres for coarse grains in producing districts, especially, in tribal areas at the conference of Food Secretaries on Wednesday. State governments have also been asked to encourage consumption of millets,” a Food Ministry official said.

Revised norms

Addressing the conference, Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said that the guidelines for millet procurement and distribution have been revised. Accordingly, if there are surplus millets, States have been allowed to distribute them to other states, he said. “We have given permission to Karnataka government to distribute surplus millets to Kerala. We hope in the coming years, we will be able to procure and distribute in a big way,” Chopra said.

All States have been urged to learn from the best practice of using millets in schemes like ICDS, mid-day meal and PDS in Karnataka which is helpful in adding nutrition and promoting healthy diet.

Meanwhile, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday urged small and marginal farmers to grow more millets, which can help address malnutrition in the country. Stressing that millets need less water but has high nutrition, he said these miracle cereals were kept out thinking it was poor man’s food.

“We are eating well but not nutrition-rich food... There is a problem of malnutrition not only in India but in many parts of the world. We can address the malnutrition problem by growing more millets,” Tomar said inaugurating the annual ‘Krishi Vigyan Mela’ in Delhi’s Pusa campus.