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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

The State government launched its flagship programme, Odisha Millet Mission in 2017, to improve the usage of nutrient-rich millets at the household level. Now, the agriculture department has intensified efforts for the revival of the crop by urging to serve millets as snacks in different government programmes.

While the nutritional value of millets offers a plethora of benefits to human health, voices are being raised to bring back the cereal into the Indian kitchens. Meanwhile, the agriculture department batted to increase the use of millets. 

In his letter to officers of various departments and the department of agriculture and farmers welfare, Dr Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Principal Secretary of the agriculture department, has insisted to serve millets and food items prepared from the cereal. Earlier at different government programmes and conferences, snacks including sweets, biscuits, pitha and ladoo were served to the guests. 

With this campaign, the agriculture department aims to spread the popularity of nutritious food item which will ultimately boost the financial condition of the farmers.

On the other hand, such a move has delighted the traders. The traders are hopeful that the business will grow after the implementation of the orders.

"We are very happy. Earlier people were unaware of the importance of millet. Now, millet is being used for preparing several food items including tea," said Santosh Pradhan, a retail trader in Jeypore.

"Indeed, this is a great proposal. The instruction of government is welcoming," said a local resident of Jeypore.

Notably, the use of millets is higher in Koraput and Jeypore. Several delicious snacks and other food items are also prepared from millet which includes biscuits, pitha, cake, chocolate, soup, dosa and idli. All these food items are popular among the locals. Even craze for a special tea prepared from millet is high in Jeypore. 

Under the flagship programme, the state government has increased the farming of millet. Currently, millet is grown across 20 districts. However, the farmers are allegedly not getting the benefits. 

Recently, the United Nations declared to observe 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Even 'Millet Man of India', Khadar Vali called upon farmers, agriculture scientists and policymakers to promote millets in agriculture to save soil, water, environment and, above all, human health.

Reported by T Gaurishankar (Jeypore) and Chand Paikray (Bhubaneswar)

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