Launching 35 climate-resilient crop varieties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday suggested states and NGOs to conduct various programmes and create a task force for the promotion of millets.
“As part of traditional farming, India had farmers growing different crops according to different climatic conditions. In dry climate, flood-prone areas, even in snow, different varieties of crops were grown, which also had more nutrition value, especially the coarse grains, the millets. These millets are beneficial for health. Therefore, given today’s lifestyle diseases, millets are much in demand,” Modi said during a virtual event to launch the 35 crop varieties.
The Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation the newly constructed campus of National Institute of Biotic Stress Management at Raipur in Chhattisgarh and distributed the ‘Green Campus Awards’ to agricultural universities. Before launching the crop varieties, he interacted with select farmers, who use innovative methods in farming.
Stating that it was due to India’s efforts that 2023 has been declared as the International Year of Millets by the UN, Modi said, “This is a good opportunity to showcase our tradition of millet farming on the international platform. But we will need to start working right away. I appeal to all the NGOs to arrange food festivals on the theme of millets, and conduct competitions on millet recipes. We will need to innovate if we want to take this to global platform in 2023.”
Observing that creating awareness about millets is necessary and suggesting that websites can be developed for millets, wherein people can contribute how and what all can be made from millets and also list its health benefits, Modi said: “I will also ask all the states to form a task force comprising experts from agriculture universities, scientists and progressive farmers and think about how India can lead and bring benefits to its farmers in 2023. You might as well start preparing for it now.”
“With the help of science and research solutions, it is now imperative to develop millets and other similar coarse grains. The aim is to grow millets in different parts of India as per requirement. The crop varieties launched today have a glimpse of this effort,” Modi said, as he stressed on a balance of ‘Back to Basic’ and ‘March for Future’ in agriculture.
Terming climate change as a big challenge not just for agriculture, but the entire ecosystem, the Prime Minister said that livestock and agriculture sectors are bearing its brunt and “the 35 varieties launched today are part of our efforts aimed at meeting that challenge”.
The crop varieties with special traits have been developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to address the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition. Thirty-five such crop varieties with special traits like climate resilience and higher nutrient content have been developed this year. These include a drought tolerant variety of chickpea; wilt and sterility mosaic resistant pigeon pea; early maturing variety of soybean; disease resistant varieties of rice and biofortified varieties of wheat, pearl millet, maize and chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean and faba bean.
Earlier, the Prime Minister spoke with five farmers from across India and lauded their efforts, sought to know their problems, and asked if they benefitted from government efforts.
The farmers were Zaitoon Begum from Ganderbal district in Jammu & Kashmir; Kulwant Singh from Bulandshahar in Uttar Pradesh; Darshana Pednekar from Bardez in Goa; Thoiba Singh from Manipur; and Suresh Rana from Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also spoke on the occasion.