Changing Consumption Patterns in Coarse Cereals in India

Successive governments at the centre have launched initiatives to promote use of coarse cereals mainly because of their nutritious value. For example, to promote cultivation and consumption of millets, Government of India allocated Rs. 300 crores in 2011-12 under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for promotion of millets as Nutri-cereals. This was to be done via a scheme called “Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion (INSIMP)”. During the UPA regime, the National Advisory Council (NAC) had moved a proposal for supply of millet and other coarse cereals through the public distribution system. The key logic is that that millet is nutritious and can bridge the food gap likely to be created in implementation of the food security law. Apart from that the following qualities make a case for promotion of coarse cereals:

  • The coarse cereals require much less water to grow than rice and wheat
  • They can be successfully cultivated in semi arid tropics and poor soils
  • They are more efficient converter of energy and plant nutrients into biomass.
  • Some of them are capable to deliver higher yield per hectare in comparison to whet and rice if there is a proper use of modern farm technology and hybrid seeds.

In summary, coarse cereals have a potential to bring rainfed green revolution in the country provided proper policy is in place.

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