With the United Nations General Assembly declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, the Tamil Nadu government will implement its Millet Mission for a period of five years, to boost production and consumption of millets, Agriculture Minister, MRK Paneerselvam, announced while presenting the Agriculture Budget 2023-24.

The Tamil Nadu Millet Mission will be implemented with the financial assistance of the Union and State Governments at an estimated cost of ₹82 crore in the coming year.

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Under the scheme, subsidies will be given for bringing fallow land under millet cultivation and crop diversification in 50,000 acres. Millet farmers will be brought together to form producer groups, for conduct of training programmes. Subsidy will be provided for installation of sprinkler irrigation systems on 12,500 acres and for establishment of Millets Processing Centres by farmer producer groups.

Under the Mission, millet festivals would be celebrated to create consumer awareness and increase consumption.

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Finger millet and pearl millet will be directly procured and availability of millets will be ensured in fair price shops. Millet-based food will be included in Government institutions and hostels of educational institutions, the minister said while presenting the budget in the Assembly on Tuesday.

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Pearl millet, finger millet, kodo millet, proso millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet and little millet are classified as minor millets. The nutrient-rich millets, besides growing well in drought conditions, thrive in poor soil conditions, too.

The last Agriculture Budget identified two millet zones encompassing 20 districts in the state.

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Based on the representations received from farmers, five new districts, namely, Namakkal, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Erode and Pudukottai will be added.

To make millets easily available, steps are being taken to distribute two kg of Ragi to family card holders in Nilgiris and Dharmapuri districts on a pilot basis. Also, to ensure farmers get a fair price, processed minor millets will be procured through cooperative societies and distributed through the Amutham, Chinthamani and Kamadhenu co-operative sales outlets in Chennai and Coimbatore, he said.