Nabard Consultancy Services (NABCONS), the subsidiary of Nabard has forecast the millets segment in Karnataka to grow by 18-20 per cent annually over the next five years on rising awareness of the nutri-cereals and the promotional initiatives taken by the State government.

NABCONS, which conducted a study on the impact of the International Trade Fairs (ITFs) on the growth of the millets sector in Karnataka during 2017-23, has pegged the current millets market in the State at ₹975 crore. “The ITFs have played a major role for market creation for millets in Karnataka. The millets sector will see a compounded annual growth rate of 18-20 per cent over the next five years,” said Sandeep Dharkar, DGM, Nabard.

Realising the importance of millets, Karnataka had taken a path-breaking step to organise the international trade fairs on millets and organics in the State. The ITF was started in the year 2017 and the State has successfully organised four ITFs till 2023. The fifth edition of the ITF on millets and organics is to be held in Bengaluru from January 5-7.

Millet producer groups

The NABCONS study revealed that the number of millet producer groups such as the State federation, FPOs, FPCs and millet clusters increased to 1,619 during 2023 as against 167 in 2017 and the mass awareness of the millets enhanced the demand in urban areas. Also, the number of millet processors and manufacturers in the State increased to 423 in 2023 as compared to 65 in 2017. As a result of various schemes promoted by the Karnataka government, many processors and manufacturers have come forward to promote and popularise millets, the study said. Also, the number of exporters exporting millet products has increased to 86 as of 2023 as compared to 15 before 2017.

Exports of millet and millet-based products from Karnataka stood at ₹36 crore during 2022-23. The number of retail outlets, bulk traders and other marketeers such as distributors, dealers and online traders increased to over 894 across the State by 2023 with more than 500 in Bengaluru alone catering to the high-quality processed millets in modern packages and value added products.

Another impact of the ITFs was that the FPOs/FPCs have turned into big time traders involving in price negotiations, discussion on quality, supply and long relationships, which has helped them earn 15 per cent additional income avoiding the intermediaries, Dharkar said. Further, Dharkar revealed that based on the knowledge gained from ITFs, the packaging of millet products has seen an improvement with greater transition to biodegradable packaging and smart and intelligent packaging supporting product quality and traceability.