Millet farmers innovate to revive millet eating habits
By Salome Yesudas | Chethana, Joining Hands India
Millet is a coarse grain, rich in nutrients, that produces well under dry and high temperature conditions and stores well. These characteristics make millets an ideal food for poor people living in dryland areas, faced with food security challenges. Eating millets also has health benefits. When added to a person’s diet, millets potentially prevent certain degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and cataracts, etc. Millets are safe for people suffering from gluten allergies and celiac’s disease. They are non-acid forming and non-allergenic, hence easy to digest.
Chethana, the Joining Hands network in India, has long recognized the value in growing the knowledge of and cultivation of millets in India. For years, Chethana has been organizing millet growing farmers into seed saver groups. And since 2015, Chethana has facilitated technical trainings with about 500 small and marginal farming families, having less than 2 acres of land. The results – farmers are successfully harvesting a variety of millets annually.
Chethana has also worked to revive millet eating habits by hosting millet recipe demonstrations and competitions as well as displaying millet ready to eat food. Recently, the concept of a millet bakery was implemented with the help of Chethana to appeal to children in particular and provide them with a healthy snack.
Women are successfully running the bakery and training others to start their own. The Ahobilah farmer producer organization with 900 farmers, formed under the Chethana network, is assisting with the marketing of their products.
1. Farmers get a good price for their millet
2. Children eat healthy snacks
3. Women earn supplementary income for their families
4. Communities move towards nutrition security