NEW DELHI: For Subasa Mohanta, popularly known as ‘Mandia Didi’ (millet didi) in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj, it’s a big honour to showcase her insights and experience of millet cultivation with global leaders at the G20 Summit.
Another woman from Odisha, Raimati Ghiuria, who is also participating in the event, will share her story on how she led women in her village in Koraput to take up millet cultivation and now 35 families are growing the crop. “Earlier, we used to get very little revenue from selling millets and it was mainly meant for self consumption. But now we are getting good prices in the market. We have brought all the traditional items which we use, to display at the event,” she said.
The women, both from tribal communities, said things changed dramatically after the Odisha government started the Millet Mission, which has now been scaled up to 177 blocks in 30 districts. They said there are many varieties of mandia (millet), which make it unique and very healthy.
Mohanta, who has been cultivating millets since 2018, said her nephew introduced her to the crop when he gave her 250gram millet seed. “I used to grow cucumbers, pumpkins and other vegetables. I never got good returns. But since I took up millet cultivation, my financial condition has improved,” she said. Currently, she cultivates millets on nearly four acres.
Mohanta said with the increase in MSP, they are getting better prices and she can make profit even after paying the annual lease amount to landowners. In March, she had interacted with PM Modi during the global conference on millets and had also met President Droupadi Murmu.
For Ghiuria, millet cultivation has not only transformed her life but she also led the forming of a ‘farmers produce’ company that procures millets from local tribal farmers. She supports farmers producers organisations (FPOs) in operating the millet tiffin centre in her block. “Now, we sell our millets at mandis at MSP,” she said.
Sources said the government has brought together nearly two dozen high performers, including FPOs, from different parts of the country to showcase how efforts are being made to popularise millets. “Ours is an organisation of 750 farmers and nearly 250 of them are women. We are creating more awareness about millets and doing value addition to the products to double farmers’ income,” said Kshitha M Ladvanti, who heads a FPO in Gulbarga district in Karnataka.

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