Mission Millet: Odisha employed a holistic agri-strategy to procure 600,000 quintals of ragi

Farmer producer organisations, crop intensification methods play key role in process

By Abhijit Mohanty
Published: Monday 15 May 2023
Ragi market at Boipariguda block in Koraput district, Odisha. Photo: Odisha government
Ragi market at Boipariguda block in Koraput district, Odisha. Photo: Odisha government Ragi market at Boipariguda block in Koraput district, Odisha. Photo: Odisha government

Odisha government has procured over 600,000 quintals of ragi or finger millet under Odisha Millet Mission (OMM) from over 60,000 farmers in the Kharif 2022-23. The crop was acquired at a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 3,578 per quintal from 143 blocks in 19 districts. 

During the Kharif Marketing Season 2022-23, southern Odisha districts such as Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Gajapati and Sundargarh reported the highest amount of ragi procurement under OMM.

The department of agriculture and farmers empowerment, Odisha government, launched the flagship programme OMM in 2017-18 to revive millets in the state. 

Read more: Millets in PDS a game changer for combating malnutrition, climate change

Hadiguda is a tribal inhabited village in the Korkunda block in the Malkangiri district. Narahari Patra, a native of the village, is among 25,487 farmers in the district who are being provided incentive support from OMM to revive traditional millet cultivation in 10,421 hectares (ha).

Narahari harvested over 40 quintals of ragi on 8.5 ha. This was the highest yield reported in the area. He received a certification of recognition from the district administration as ‘best millet farmer.’ 

“Earlier, we used to sow ragi directly on the field,” recalled Narahari, while showing his farm where he has grown the crop under the System of Millet Intensification (SMI) method. The method focuses on endogenous processes than on external inputs for increasing yield

Ragi is mostly grown in barren and less fertile land. The yield under the method was hardly 2.5 quintals per acre. But with the SMI method, farmers can harvest about 5-6 quintals per acre, he added.

“SMI is a cost-effective production tool between younger seedlings and space maintenance to achieve a higher yield,” said Nandagiri Ramkrishna Hayagreeva, chief district agriculture officer, Malkangiri. 

In this method, the younger seedlings of ragi are uprooted with soil at the age of 15-20 days and planted at a 25x25 centimetre row to plant with proper basal dose. As there is adequate space between the plants and rows, weeding is done with cycle weeder to maintain proper soil filtration. 

This increases microorganism population and aeration, resulting in more tillers, he added.

Local non-profits in collaboration with community resource persons, community-based organisations, progressive farmers, Krishak Sathis and subject matter specialists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra have been collectively promoting improved agronomic practices among small-scale farmers to boost productivity and crop yield.

Input-based enterprises such as custom-hiring centres have been established to provide essential agri-equipment to farmers at a nominal price on a rental basis. Community-managed seed centres have been set up to ensure quality seed distribution. 

Bio-input centre managed by women self-help groups provide organic input such as handikhatajeevamruthabeejaamrutaagniastra, etc.

Read more: Low grant sanctions, disbursement: India wants to promote FPOs but where are the funds?

Procurement at MSP

Under OMM, the procurement was carried out by the block level procurement agencies such as primary agriculture cooperative societies, large area multi-purpose cooperative societies and women self-help groups.

Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation Ltd has been the state-level nodal procurement agency facilitating the processes and activities in the state.

Earlier, farmers in remote locations used to travel long distances to register their names and submit necessary documents at the production cluster and procurement agencies. For instance, farmers in Malkangiri’s Chitrakonda block used to travel more than 50 kilometres to reach Kudmulguma.

Local farmer producer organisations (FPO) have been engaged as block level procurement agencies for providing door-step services to farmers such as registration form distribution, document collection and token distribution for selling at mandi points,” said Arabinda Kumar Padhee, IAS, principal secretary, department of agriculture and farmers’ empowerment, Government of Odisha. 

FPOs have undertaken a series of awareness generation activities on fair average quality and MSP. This has strengthened farmers’ collectiveness in the state, he added.

The procurement process has been streamlined through an online system called MPAS, a platform designed for smooth procurement management and operation. 

“This facilitates direct benefit transfer within a week of the sale of produce in farmer’s bank account,” said Poma Tudu, IAS, managing director, Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation of Odisha Ltd (TDCCOL).  

FPOs received commission and service charges from TDCCOL to facilitate procuring ragi under MSP. For instance, the Sabujima FPO in Boipariguda block under Koraput district has procured 34,145.09 quintals of ragi from 2,672 farmers, earning a revenue of about Rs 22,88,745 in Kharif Marketing Season 2022-23. 

Similarly, Gangadhar Women Self-Help Group (WSHG), supported by the Mission Shakti Department, has procured 1,271 quintals of ragi in Sinapali block in Nuapada district. The SHG has earned a revenue of Rs 85,830 as part of its commission and service charge.

“OMM has systematised the inclusion of marginalised farmers,” said the principal secretary.

Farmers who grew ragi on land under the Forest Rights Act, 2006 are included in the programme and can sell their produce at MSP. Similarly, farmers without land titles such as sharecroppers, have also been registered as ragi producers under MSP.

Read more: Modi talks of 10,000 farmer producer organisations. Will that double income?

The WSHG federations are pivotal in sensitising women farmers on nutritional security and the multiple health benefits of millet. Under the collaborative initiative of OMM and Mission Shakti, women entrepreneurs are being supported to set up and manage millet-based processing and value-addition enterprises.

“This has not only empowered women-led collectives but also contributed towards enhancing the production of millets and inclusion of millet-based diets at the community level,” said Vinod Jena, Odisha administrative service, joint secretary, department of Mission Shakti. 

Read more:

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.