A unique national initiative called All India Millet Network started by the Deccan Development Society, an NGO in the state was formally launched in Machnoor Village at Medak District on October 16, 2007 by the noted organic farmer and ideologue Dr Nammalwar of the Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Movement.
The launch was a part of the World Food Day celebrations by the women’s sanghams of the Deccan Development Society.
Introducing the concept of the Network Mr P V Satheesh, Director, Deccan Development Society and the initiator of the Network said that the Network had members from Uttarakhan, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka the major millet producing states of India..
On behalf of the Network he demanded that the government should accord the rightful place for millets in its food and agriculture policies and plans. The major demands made on the government were
- Recognize that millets are the mainstay of agriculture and food of low income groups and small farmers in more than 60% of Indian landscape. Therefore announce just support prices for them in the same lines as rice and wheat.
- Grown in over 100 million hectares of the country, millets can potentially produce more than 100 million tones, almost 50% of the country’s food production. Therefore they have the ability to ensure not only the food security of the country but also multiple securities such as fodder security, health and nutritional security, livelihood security and ecological security.
- Being very high in their nutritional quality the millets can offer the best option for the country to combine food, health and nutrition for the welfare of its citizens. Therefore it is time that the government starts introducing millets in the public distribution system, ICDS, school meals, social welfare hostels and food for work programme. This will create a big market for the farmers in rainfed areas and push up their economic well being and end the agrarian crisis being witnessed by the country.
- In the Climate Change context of the contemporary society, it must be recognized that millet cultivation brings huge green cover on agriculture lands in semi arid and arid landscapes of the country, help in carbon sequestration and lower the impact of climate change.
- Millet cultivation being mainly a rainfed activity is least dependent on irrigated water. Therefore it is our best bet against the impending water crisis in the country.
- Much of millet cultivation is bio diversity based and hence offers a large base for the cultivation of pulses as an intercrop in the millet fields. Therefore it can totally plug the current fall in pulse production and consumption, a disturbing food trend in the country.
- Considering above, the govenmnet can offer water bonus and biodiversity bonus to millet farmers in the same away as it offers production bonus for wheat farmers. This way it can promote a lot of millet cultivation in the country without offending any of its WTO conditionalities.
- Finally a huge promotion of millet based foods is imperative if the government wishes to address the crisis of spreading diabetes, heart problems and obesity among its citizens.
Dr Tirupataiah, Special Commissioner, Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh was the Chief Guest while Mr Rajeev Khedkar, Director, Academy of Development Science, Maharashtra Presided.
Major Farmers groups from Tamil Nadu and Orissa attended the celebrations.
The following farmers and Sanghams were honoroured for their contribution to the food and seed sovereignty of the Deccan Development Society Communities.
- Smt Yellamma, Kalbemal for Promotion of Mixed Cropping
- Smt Rasamma, Hoti K, for On Farm Diversity
- Huligera Village Sangham for Promotion of Organic Market
- Smt Adivappa for Diversity in Seed Banks
- Mr Nagappa for Promotion of Sama
- Raipally Village Sangham for Tanksilt Application
- Shamshuddinpur Village Sangham for Tanksilt Application
- Smt Tuljamma for Establishing more compost pits
- Miriampur Village Sangham for Biomass Plantation
- Pyalaram Village Sangham for Successful Implementation of Alternative Public Distribution System
- Cheelamamidi Village Sangham for Successful Implementation of Alternative Public Distribution System
- Jeerlapalli Village Sangham for selling organic products through Village Sangam Shop
- Malgi Village Sangham for providing Free Meals to Destitute.