The buzz around millets had reached its peak last year as the world celebrated the International Year of Millets and India announced a major push to drive millet consumption. But for a few pro-active States, we don’t see much action on this front in most States.

Also read: NeML denies wrongdoing after Odisha ban

Odisha has come out with an interesting model, the Odisha Millets Mission (OMM), which comprises several components.

From preparing good agronomical practices to supporting farmers by offering minimum support price and from building a state-wide structured administrative mechanism to providing budgetary funds and promoting consumption – the Mission has succeeded in bringing millets back on the farmers’ agenda and more importantly, on to the menus of people, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, an arm of the Indian School of Business, has said.

The Institute has done a study on the Mission and came out with a report (The report Odisha Millets Mission - A Transition to a Just Food System), tracing its implementation in the Eastern State. What started as an experiment in a few districts, the Mission has been extended to 177 blocks in 30 districts.

Started in 2017-18 in 30 blocks across seven districts, the initiative roped in self-help groups, non-governmental organisations and farmer producer organisations and entrepreneurs to make it an inclusive programme.

In order not to glut the market with millets and depress the prices, the State government introduced millets in the Public Distribution System (PDS) and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) The Niti Aayog, the Central planning agency, liked this idea and felt that other States could take a cue.


The Mission was aimed at increasing the price of millets; promoting millet food culture in urban and rural areas; conserving and promoting millet landraces; promoting post-harvest and primary processing enterprises for millets and improving the productivity of millets-based crop systems.

“The Mission is supported by a multilevel, hybrid programme management unit (comprising research Institutions, policy advocacy networks, non-government and government organisations) embedded in an inter-departmental government machinery. While the Programme Secretariat is managed by Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), the Research Secretariat is managed by the Nabakrushna Chowdhary Centre for Development Studies. 

The Mission was started with a budget of ₹580 crores in 2017 for four years 2017-2022. The State Cabinet has approved a four-fold increase in the budget, taking it to ₹2,687 crore for the next phase (2023-24 to 2026-27).

Digital window

“One of the initiatives under the OMM is the online registration of farmers to procure millets. The M-PAS portal functions as a digital repository of registered farmers and is used by district officials to verify them. Timely payments that are transparently recorded increase the efficiency of the programme,” the report said.

“A web-based Management Information System was developed to monitor the whole activity. A mobile application for farmers registration and monitoring was also developed. The latter was used by the community resource persons who engage with the farmers,” the report said.

“Odisha Millets Mission is not just about promotion of the nutri-cereal crops, it is also about addressing the equity and justice for vulnerable rainfed smallholder farmers, mostly tribals. To revive millets, Government of Odisha has adopted fork-to-farm approach with emphasis on household consumption, both in rural and urban areas. We have also undertaken efforts to promote locally appropriate traditional varieties of custodian farmers through uniquely designed seed system for landraces. In addition, with women self help groups at centre, there is a grassroots transformation of Millet value chain through the Millet-Shakti initiative.”, said Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Principal Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment, Odisha.

Promoting consumption

An increase in production itself, won’t help, unless and until there is a demand for the produce. With a view to promote consumption, the Mission promoted distributed channels, including retail outlets. 

“The Mission provided funds for millet-based food startups.  “Women SHGs and FPOs a one-time assistance of ₹50,000 to set up millet food kiosks,” the report said.

In 2022, the OMM achieved a procurement of 60,335 tonnes of ragi from 19 districts. The Government announced the minimum support price for ragi at ₹3,578 a quintal for 2022-23.

Also read: How to embrace ‘digital agriculture’ 

 “Not only does this minimum price guarantee attract people to engage in millet cultivation, it also creates opportunities for paddy farmers to transition into millet cultivation,” it says.