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Leading the Way on Millets - Minister for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda - Across my Table

Wednesday, April 26, 2017Me! In words

The state and the country are sitting up and paying attention to the growing focus on millets. The Minister of Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda and The Government of Karnataka is doing some really interesting things (check it out here) to promote the use of millets, which, let's face is an intrinsic part of our culinary heritage. As part of the run-up to the The ‘National Trade Fair – Organics & Millets 2017’ I spoke to the
Minister of Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda on his vision for millets in the state and country.

 Minister of Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda 

Why the thrust on bringing millets back?
The thrust of bringing back millets is a recent phenomena, which has been gaining momentum over the last 4-5 years, for numerous reasons. The interest in millets rose partly due to a rise in lifestyle related ailments, coupled with an increase in the awareness and desire for a balanced diet. Healthy living and eating has been gaining priority. Millets are nutritional powerhouses, high in proteins, dietary fiber, B complex vitamins, essential amino acids, folic acid and Vitamin E. They are particularly high in minerals such as Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Phosphorus, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium and hence helps cure numerous ailments. Moreover, Millets require 70% less water than rice. They require no pesticides and minimal chemical fertilizers making them mostly organic and environment friendly. They are low cost crops and can be grown well eve in marginal lands, with low rainfall.

What are the measures the Government in putting in place to make millet cultivation more lucrative for farmers?
On the production side, we have provided greater support to farmers in terms of training and development, good quality seeds and higher procurement prices. Efforts have been invested in creating market awareness through various melas that were conducted in various localities of various cities in Karnataka. We are also proactively linking business organisations with farmer and farmer groups, with the objective of providing all stakeholders with mutual benefits. We have also been proactively establishing and maintaining dialogues with various groups of influencers such as health correspondents, nutritionists, health bloggers, chefs, restaurants etc. in order to amplify the message of millets.

What are the primary nutritive components of millets that we seem to have forgotten about and why is it important to our diets?
Millets are nutritional powerhouses high in proteins, dietary fiber, B complex vitamins, essential amino acids, folic acid and Vitamin E. They are particularly high in minerals such as Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Phosphorus, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium. They are known as the ‘Super Food’ and apart from reducing the risk of Diabetes, their high dietary fibre provides hunger satisfaction and helps reduce obesity. They also help reduce the risk of cardio vascular diseases, and are beneficial in the treating and prevention of gallstones, stomach ulcers and relives constipation. As millets are nutritionally dense, they reduce anaemia, liver disorders and asthma. Its hypo allergic properties help prevent allergic reactions. Being rich in anti oxidants, millets are known to reduce oxidative stress and reduce the risk of cancer. Lastly millets also aid in reducing the occurrence of hyper tension.

What are the kinds of associations you have with restaurants across the city to promote millet consumption?
We have been proactively establishing and maintaining dialogues with chefs and restaurants around the state, in order to amplify the message of millets and have seen support from many restaurants including Smilefe, Soulfull Cereals, Millet Bowl, Yoga Bars and FreshMenu, who serve various dishes made from millets.

What advantage does the state of Karnataka have in millet production?
Karnataka aims to be the millet bowl of India and production-wise, we aim to be the national leader in millet production and marketing. Though millet cultivation is present in many states across the country, from a promotional angle, no other state is promoting millets in a comprehensive manner like Karnataka. Now due to the buzz created by Karnataka, 1 or 2 other states are taking cues to develop the cultivation and market for millets. 

What can we expect from the National Trade Fair to be held shortly?
The ‘National Trade Fair – Organics & Millets 2017’ is a national conference and exposition on vista of opportunities in agriculture and horticulture, processing and marketing. The event offers an excellent opportunity for farmers, buyers, sellers, exporters of organic produce and millets. This fair also facilitates organic product processors, manufacturers of farm equipment and others to showcase their respective products and expertise in organic and millet related areas. The fair serves as an important confluence for all organic stakeholders for the promotion of trade, sharing information and knowledge about organic agribusiness. In Karnataka, Organic & Millet farmers have been organized into 14 Regional Federations. They produce wide ranging variety of organic & millet crops. This trade fair is an easy platform to connect with this wide producer base. It is a one stop opportunity to source your requirement of organic and millet crops.


 Hoping to make Karnataka the Millet Bowl of the Country

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