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Abstract

The challenge to food production posed by climate aberrations has been seeing increased attention to reviving millet-based farming systems. Millets are climate-resilient and nutritionally equivalent or superior to most other cereals, making them a favourable crop to address the prevalence of malnutrition. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) is among the major crops cultivated in the undulating terrains of Koraput district of Odisha, India. It is consumed as a staple food and drink by the local tribal communities. However, over the years there has been rapid decline both in area and in production of the crop leading to reduced grain availability for household consumption. With a view to increase the productivity, the study assessed the effects of possible combinations of crop varieties and agronomic practices that can be customized for finger millet production system in Koraput over 2 years (2015–2017). The study focused on crop productivity, profitability and labour requirement along with nutrition awareness initiatives. On-farm trial with improved variety ‘GPU-67’ with line transplanting and recommended fertilizer management in 2015–2016 showed 31 and 50% higher grain yield and profit than that of farmers’ practice (1579 kg ha− 1 and ₹13,730 ha− 1, respectively) and was counted as a recommended cultivation package. In 2016–2017, the recommended practice showed 60% higher grain yield and 1.16 times more profit than farmers’ practice (1575 kg ha− 1 and ₹14,000 ha− 1, respectively) (P < 0.000). Both total and women’s labour requirement per ha was lower under recommended practice. An endline survey in 2017 revealed improved household consumption over baseline.
FULL-LENGTH RESEARCH ARTICLE
Finger Millet in Tribal Farming Systems Contributes to Increased
Availability of Nutritious Food at Household Level: Insights
from India
Aliza Pradhan
1
Akshaya Kumar Panda
1
R. V. Bhavani
1
Received: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 11 October 2018
ÓThe Author(s) 2019
Abstract The challenge to food production posed by climate aberrations has been seeing increased attention to reviving
millet-based farming systems. Millets are climate-resilient and nutritionally equivalent or superior to most other cereals,
making them a favourable crop to address the prevalence of malnutrition. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) is among the
major crops cultivated in the undulating terrains of Koraput district of Odisha, India. It is consumed as a staple food and
drink by the local tribal communities. However, over the years there has been rapid decline both in area and in production
of the crop leading to reduced grain availability for household consumption. With a view to increase the productivity, the
study assessed the effects of possible combinations of crop varieties and agronomic practices that can be customized for
finger millet production system in Koraput over 2 years (2015–2017). The study focused on crop productivity, profitability
and labour requirement along with nutrition awareness initiatives. On-farm trial with improved variety ‘GPU-67’ with line
transplanting and recommended fertilizer management in 2015–2016 showed 31 and 50% higher grain yield and profit than
that of farmers’ practice (1579 kg ha
-1
and `13,730 ha
-1
, respectively) and was counted as a recommended cultivation
package. In 2016–2017, the recommended practice showed 60% higher grain yield and 1.16 times more profit than
farmers’ practice (1575 kg ha
-1
and `14,000 ha
-1
, respectively) (P\0.000). Both total and women’s labour require-
ment per ha was lower under recommended practice. An endline survey in 2017 revealed improved household consumption
over baseline.
Keywords Finger millet Nutritive food Labour requirement Household consumption Subsistence agriculture
Tribal communities
Introduction
Agriculture productivity and production is adversely
affected due to uneven weather conditions, increased
temperature and changing rainfall pattern (onset, quantity
and intra-seasonal distribution). Global food and nutrition
transition focuses on unique interventions to feed the pro-
jected population of 9 billion in 2050, equitably, healthily
and sustainably [1]. The World Summit on Food Security,
2009, estimated that at least 70% more food production is
required by 2050 to feed the ever increasing population. It
would require an annual increase of approximately 44
million tons, which is 38% above current annual increase
in food production [18]. Climate change together with
rapidly increasing population is mounting considerable
pressure on agriculture sector to improve productivity. The
impact will be more pronounced in the hot tropics, mainly
populated by developing countries as they are likely to
suffer maximum loss in food production [3]. Further, a
large population in developing countries is suffering from
nutritional imbalance and prevalence of multiple
micronutrient deficiencies [16,19]. In this context,
improvements in agricultural productivity leading to
greater availability of nutritious food at household level
&Aliza Pradhan
alizapradhan@gmail.com
1
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai 600113,
India
123
Agric Res
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40003-018-0395-6
can help address nutrition maladies. One possible solution
is identifying and improving the yield of traditional or
native crops that are highly adaptive to local climate, have
high nutrient value and can efficiently withstand biotic and/
or abiotic stresses. These crops largely consumed by
indigenous communities across the globe are often referred
to as coarse cereals. One such crop, finger millet (Eleusine
coracana L.) is a major staple crop among tribal farming
communities in developing countries like India. Grown in
arid regions, they can adapt to adverse climatic conditions,
require minimal inputs and possess superior nutritional
properties [6,8]. The crop has gained focus of scientific
research for their extraordinary potential to grow under
high temperature, low moisture and poor soils [15]. It is no
more called a coarse cereal rather referred to as a nutri-
cereal or as a nutraceutical crop and is seen as a potential
solution for addressing malnutrition and hidden hunger
worldwide [7].
Finger millet is high in Ca, Fe and Mg and contains
amino acid methionine, which are deficient in the diets of
nutritionally insecure households dependent primarily on
starchy staples such as polished rice or maize [4]. Its
dietary fibre and mineral contents are also markedly higher
than rice and maize (Table 1). In addition, shorter duration
and suitability to grow in all seasons make finger millet a
desirable crop in an intensive cropping system. The seeds
have an extended shelf life without significant damage by
storage pests, which makes them a good reserve for fam-
ine-prone periods and areas [17]. Crops such as rice and
maize might provide food security, but finger millet
accounts for manifold securities including food, fodder,
fibre, nutrition, health, environment and livelihood at
minimal cost, offering great opportunities for food and
nutrition security [7].
Koraput district in the state of Odisha in India is char-
acterized by warm and humid climate with 80% of the total
annual rainfall received from the south-west monsoon in
the months from June to mid-October. The annual average
rainfall varies between 1320 and 1520 mm. The mean daily
maximum temperature is around 40 °C, while the mean
daily minimum temperature is around 14 °C. Major soil
type found in the area is matured red lateritic soil (Al-
fisols), mixed grey soil (Inceptisols) and unaltered soils
with coarse parent materials (Entisols). The prevailing soil
texture in the area is mostly sandy loam. Agriculture is
primarily rainfed, and kharif (June–September) is the main
cropping season. Finger millet is a major staple food crop,
second only to paddy, among subsistence farming house-
holds in the rainfed uplands of the district. Area under
finger millet accounts for 16% of the total gross cropped
area and 28% of the total area under cereal crop cultivation
in the district [5]. The tribal communities predominantly
cultivate local landraces of finger millet, viz. telugu man-
dia,dasara mandia,san mandia and bada mandia, using
traditional agronomic practices. Millets are mostly raised
in kharif (June–September) on marginal lands in the upland
and hilly regions with few or no external inputs, either as a
pure crop or with a range of pulses, legumes and oilseeds
under mixed cropping systems. Besides its importance as a
nutritious food crop, finger millet contributes greatly to the
incomes of rural households. It is sold directly as grain or
brewed into local beer for sale in local markets where there
is ready demand. Despite great value associated with this
nutri-crop by the local communities, there has been decline
both in area and in production of the crop. The area under
finger millet cultivation in the district declined by 55%
over three decades, from 144,480 hectares in 1980 to
65,160 ha in 2013 [5]. Further, due to traditional cultiva-
tion practices, the grain yield is as low as 4 q ha
-1
under
broadcasting method, and even with traditional trans-
planting methods yield, it is only 9 q ha
-1
[11]. Some of
the primary reasons are poor crop management (use of low-
quality seeds, broadcasting method of sowing leading to
low plant population, no nutrient and weed management
practices), and in some cases replacement by commercial
plantations of Eucalyptus; this has led to both reduced
availability and consumption.
Table 1 A comparison of nutritional composition of finger millet with other major cereals
Cereal and millets Nutritional composition
a
Protein
(g)
Fat
(g)
Minerals
(g)
Crude fibre
(g)
Carbohydrates
(g)
Energy
(Kcal)
Calcium
(mg)
Phosphorus
(mg)
Iron
(mg)
Finger millet 7.3 1.3 2.7 3.6 72.0 328 344 283 3.9
Rice, parboiled,
milled
6.4 0.4 0.7 0.2 79.0 340 9 143 1.0
Rice, raw, milled 6.8 0.5 0.6 0.2 78.2 345 10 160 0.7
Maize, dry 11.1 3.6 1.5 2.7 66.2 342 10 348 2.3
Maize, tender 4.7 0.9 0.8 1.9 24.6 125 9 121 1.1
a
All values are per 100 g of edible portion [9]
Agric Res
123
This study was undertaken as part of a feasibility study
on Farming System for Nutrition, with the objective of
improving availability of nutrient-dense crops at household
level to address nutrition insecurity [2]. This paper exam-
ines the impact of efforts to revive the millet-based farming
systems in the area primarily by improving the crop pro-
ductivity, thereby contributing to increased availability of
nutritious food at household level.
Materials and Methods
Study Site
A core set of seven villages (658 households with popu-
lation of 2845) in Boipariguda block of Koraput district
was selected for the study. Detailed baseline survey and
focus group discussions were undertaken from June 2013
to September 2014, to capture information on socio-de-
mographic and agricultural practices, nutritional status of
the population and food consumption pattern [12].
Agricultural Status
The population of the study villages is predominantly
dependent on agriculture for food and livelihood. About
73% of the village households reported either cultivation or
agricultural labour as the primary occupation, and around
68% of the households reported the same as their sec-
ondary occupation. A majority of the households (530 out
of 658) are marginal farmers with less than a hectare of
land. Agriculture is largely rainfed, and kharif (June–
September) is the main cropping season. Paddy is the
predominant crop followed by finger millet, which is
mostly raised on marginal lands in the upland and hilly
regions with few external inputs, either as a pure crop or
with a range of pulses, legumes and oilseeds under mixed
cropping system.
Nutritional Status and Food Consumption Pattern
A majority, 30–40% of children and 40–50% of adults,
were undernourished; high levels of anaemia ([60%)
prevailed among children under five, adolescent girls and
women (18–45 years) [12]. The diet was found to be lar-
gely cereal dominated with consumption of all other food
groups being less than the recommended levels [12]. Finger
millet was a part of the daily diet of most households; it
was, however, largely being sourced from the market
(71%) and consumed in a diluted form.
Nutrition Awareness Activities
Several nutrition awareness initiatives were conducted
throughout the study period to create better understanding
on the basics of balanced diet and nutrition and how to
access this from locally available natural resources and
farming system (http://www.lansasouthasia.org/blog/need-
nutrition-awareness-transferring-food-field-plate). Selected
men and women farmers from the villages were given
training and capacitated on this aspect (http://www.
lansasouthasia.org/content/refresher-course-community-hu
nger-fighters). Initiatives specific to finger millet included
awareness on nutrient content of the crop, organization of
exposure visits to finger millet fields, trainings on improved
agriculture practices, pest management and recipe
demonstration.
Participatory on-farm demonstration and selection
of improved variety and recommended agronomic
practice
The baseline survey indicated demand–supply gap in the
availability of finger millet; low productivity of the crop
emerged as a primary agricultural factor for less avail-
ability of the crop for household consumption [12].
Accordingly, appropriate technologies/approaches to
address the productivity issue were laid out in discussion
with technical experts and men and women farmers. Under
traditional practice, seeds of local land races of finger
millet are broadcasted at a heavy seed rate of 25 kg ha
-1
as a safeguard against poor seed quality and uncertain soil
moisture. Such seed rate under favourable soil moisture
conditions results in a very dense crop, which is normally
not thinned out and leads to crowded plant population. This
leads to unequal nutrient availability to plants and difficulty
in weeding. Traditional practice of cultivation also does not
include application of manure or fertilizers or any other
management practice. Under such circumstances, there is
poor yield; seeds saved from these fields also turn to be of
inferior quality with considerable physical mixing, which
further adversely affects the yield potential.
With a view to address this, a farmer participatory OFD
was conducted in seven farmers’ field over 0.52 ha in
kharif of 2015–2016 in order to select the suitable variety
and appropriate agronomic practice for higher productivity.
GPU-67, a high-yielding finger millet variety selected
under a participatory varietal selection programme under
an earlier study [10], was taken along with farmers’ variety
for comparison. GPU-67 is a semi-dwarf (non-lodging)
medium-duration variety (114–118 days) with desirable
traits like good panicle shape, no grain shattering and yield
potential of 30–35 q ha
-1
. Improved agronomic practices
included were (a) nursery raising with recommended seed
Agric Res
123
rate of 5 kg ha
-1
; (b) line transplanting of 3–5-week-old
seedlings; (c) population density @ 20 cm 910 cm;
(d) application of recommended dose of fertilizer
40:20:20 kg nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium
(K) per ha; and (e) timely weeding and need-based plant
protection measures. Half of the nitrogen and total phos-
phorus and potash were applied over the main field as basal
application. The remaining 50% of nitrogen was applied
25 days after transplanting, depending on availability of
soil moisture.
Each farmer’s field in the OFD was considered as a
replicate, and the allotted area under each farmer was split
into four treatments: farmers’ method against recom-
mended agronomic practice in different combinations
resulting in the following four treatments (T), viz.
T
1
: GPU-67 ?recommended agronomic practices,
T
2
: Farmers’ variety ?recommended agronomic practices,
T
3
: GPU-67 ?traditional farming practice, and
T
4
(control): Farmers’ variety ?traditional farming
practice.
The land area was split into four equal portions to fit all
the treatments. The study focused on collecting the data on
yield-attributing parameters (number of productive fingers,
finger length), crop yield and economics of production and
comparing them among the treatments. Total cost of cul-
tivation, gross return and net return were calculated. The
cost of cultivation included paid expenses (for inputs and
hired labour, if any) incurred during calendar of operations
under crop production, and gross return was calculated by
multiplying the total return with the market price of the
crop. Net return was calculated by subtracting total cost of
cultivation from gross return.
In 2016–2017, the best recommended practice was
promoted, to bring more area under the crop. Thirty
farmers following recommended practice and thirty farm-
ers following farmers’ practice were selected for compar-
ison purpose. A gender-wise division of labour requirement
across the entire calendar of operations was recorded and
analysed. In rabi (October–January), farmers having irri-
gation facility were encouraged to grow a short-duration
variety (103–105 days) of the crop, ‘Bhairabi’.
Endline Survey
An endline survey was conducted in late 2017 taking a
sample of 190 households from the study area. Comparison
of food consumption pattern (quantity, frequency and
source) was made between the same set of 190 households
at the baseline and endline surveys of the study. All the
data were analysed using SPSS software.
Results and Discussion
On-Farm Demonstration of Finger Millet
Cultivation (2015–2016)
The OFD showed the technological potential to achieve
improved grain yield under appropriate production man-
agement conditions. GPU-67 under improved agronomic
practices (T
1
) produced the highest grain yield of
2067 kg ha
-1
, 31% higher yield than that of farmers’
varieties under traditional agronomic practices (control;
P= 0.038) (Table 2). Further, reduced seed rate and
increased grain yield in T
1
translated to a 50% increase in
net return than that under control (`13,730 ha
-1
). The
increased grain yield of 488 kg of finger millet per ha
under T
1
as compared to T
4
will provide larger quantity of
nutrient-rich food to farmer households, the crop being rich
in micronutrient content, especially calcium, iron and folic
acid. Considering all the above parameters, i.e., yield,
economics and increased availability, improved variety of
GPU-67 with improved agronomic practice was selected as
the recommended variety for promotion and scale up in
2016–2017.
Table 2 Comparison of yield-contributing parameters, grain yield and economics of production among treatments in 2015–2016
Treatments No. of productive
fingers plant
-1
Finger
length (cm)
Grain yield
(kg ha
-1
)
Total cost of
cultivation (`ha
-1
)
Gross
return (`)
Net
return
(`)
T
1
: GPU-67 ?recommended agronomic
practices
4.4 7.4 2067* 20,800 41,340 20,540
T
2
: Farmers’ variety ?recommended
agronomic practices
4.4 6.6 1832 20,670 36,640 15,970
T
3
: GPU-67 ?traditional farming
practices
4.3 6.6 1740 17,980 34,800 16,820
T
4
(Control): Farmers’
variety ?traditional farming practices
4 6.5 1579 17,850 31,580 13,730
*P\0.05; market price of finger millet @20.00 `kg
-1
Agric Res
123
Cultivation of Finger Millet Under Recommended
Practice (2016–2017)
Kharif Cultivation of Finger Millet (2016–2017)
In 2016–2017, GPU-67 with improved agronomic practices
was cultivated by 238 farmers covering 27 ha upland area
across the seven study villages. The results of comparison
study between recommended and farmers practices
(n= 30) showed a 60% higher grain yield in recommended
practice than in farmer’s practice (1575 kg ha
-1
)
(P= 0.0001); this was primarily due to the occurrence of
higher number of productive fingers than that in the control
plots under farmers’ practice (P= 0.011) (Table 3). The
recommended practice also had 1.16 times higher net
return than control (`14,000 ha
-1
). This increase in pro-
duction will significantly contribute to the nutritional food
security of a very vulnerable community, with small land
holdings. The yield increase also enhanced the grain
availability for household consumption and generated
surplus for sale. In addition, there was 35% increased straw
yield under the recommended practice (P= 0.005) than
under the control fields (3295 kg ha
-1
); this will help in
meeting the fodder requirement of the farm animals in the
study area.
Implications of New Agronomic Practices
in the Recommended Method on Labour Requirements
Both total and women labour requirement were 5 and 35%
lower under recommended practice than that under farm-
ers’ practice (146 and 116 labour days ha
-1
, respectively)
(Fig. 1). There was no major change in labour requirement
for land preparation under recommended and farmers’
practices as in both cases the land was ploughed thoroughly
2–3 times within an interval of 8–10 days followed by
levelling. However, sowing under recommended practice
had 9.6 times more labour requirement than farmers’
practice (5 labour days ha
-1
). Men were engaged in
preparing the land for nursery and transportation of seed-
lings to the main field, and women were involved in sowing
the seeds in nursery, uprooting, bundling and transplanting
of the 20–25-day-old seedlings with a spacing of
25 925 cm in the main field. The increased labour hours
of women for transplanting under recommended practice
was, however, largely offset by reduced labour required for
weeding. Weed management, primarily done by women,
was, by far, the most important preoccupation in finger
millet production in the study region. A variety of weeds,
mainly grasses (Eleusine indica,Digitaria sp., Cynodon
dactylon,Cyperus sp., Panicum maximum), were reported
to be the most obnoxious presence in finger millet fields
because of their resemblance to the crop, which makes
weeding very cumbersome, particularly under broadcasting
method. Weed control was exclusively manual, using small
short-handled hoes, and the efficiency was very low in
broadcasted fields. Further, with paddy being the primary
focus crop, the high labour requirement made timely
weeding in finger millet untenable, resulting in the crop
being severely stressed by weed competition leading to low
yield. Transplanting facilitated inter-row and inter-plant
Table 3 Comparison of yield-attributing characters, yields and economics of production between recommended and farmers’ practices in
2016–2017 (n= 30)
Treatments No. of
productive
fingers plant
-1
Finger
length (cm)
Grain yield
(kg ha
-1
)
Straw yield
(kg ha
-1
)
Total cost of
cultivation
(`ha
-1
)
Gross
return
(`)
Net
return
(`)
Recommended practice
(GPU-67 ?recommended
agronomic practices)
2.92 ±1.16* 5.32 ±1.11 2512.50 ±673.35*** 4444.07 ±1197.73** 19,970 50,240 30,270
Control (farmers’
variety ?traditional farming
practices)
1.97 ±0.96 5.11 ±1.69 1574.85 ±372.09 3294.74 ±1090.03 17,500 31,500 14,000
*P\0.05; **P\0.01; ***P\0.001
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
180
Control
Recommended
Control
Recommended
Control
Recommended
Control
Recommended
Control
Recommended
Control
Recommended
Land
preparation
Sowing Weeding Fertilizer
application
Harvesting Total
Labour requirement ( labour days per ha)
Female Male
Fig. 1 Comparison of labour requirement across the calendar of
operations between recommended and farmers’ practices in 2016–17
Agric Res
123
space and made weeding less labour intensive. Harvesting
of finger millet which involves collection of fingers one by
one by cutting with a sharp instrument was done exclu-
sively by women; the higher yield therefore led to a slight
increase in labour requirement. The extent of increase was
tempered by uniformity in plant growth, and the mature
fingers did not get entangled, making it easier for the
women to harvest. The findings were further substantiated
by village-level focus group discussions conducted in early
2018. The common feedback was that transplanting in
finger millet had reduced the labour burden for women
primarily due to less time required under weeding, while
the labour requirement had increased for men, mainly
under nursery preparation and seedling transportation.
Rabi Cultivation of Finger Millet (2016–2017)
Finger millet was generally grown only during kharif
(June–September) and in uplands. Farmers who did not
have upland to grow the crop during kharif but had irri-
gation facility were encouraged to grow the crop in rabi
(October–January) in medium lands. A short-duration
(103–105 days) variety ‘Bhairabi’ was promoted following
recommended package and practices resulting in a grain
yield of 1340 ±240 kg ha
-1
.
Food Consumption Pattern
The endline food consumption survey revealed a positive
impact of both higher production from recommended cul-
tivation practice and nutrition awareness initiatives. There
was an increase of 13% in average intake of finger millet
over the baseline (70 g/person/day). There was also an
increase in the number of households consuming finger
millet in their daily diet to 187 from 172 during the base-
line. The proportion of households sourcing it from their
own production was also higher at 68% as against 47%
during the baseline.
Conclusions
Overall, the significantly higher yield with improved
variety and improved agronomic practice portends greater
availability of the nutrient-dense crop for consumption in a
context where area under finger millet cultivation has been
declining. Though finger millet occupies an important
position in the diet as well as farming system (e.g. fodder
for cattle) of the community in the study area, cultivation
of commercial crops or putting the land for other use was
seen as an economical option by the household when the
return from finger millet was low. This subsequently had
implications for household dietary diversity and led to
dependence on market for food grains. This intervention
demonstrates an economically viable alternative approach
for farmers.
An earlier study had reported reduced time for care work
for women during peak agricultural seasons [14]. The
reduced drudgery of work for women demonstrated under
this approach will make more time available for child care
and leisure. Coupled with better nutrition awareness, the
increased availability will help ensure better consumption
of nutrient-rich finger millet by the households. Selling the
surplus will provide additional income to the growers as
well as increase availability for non-growers. By
2017–2018 kharif, improved variety, GPU-67, with
improved package and practice was being cultivated by
167 farmers in 58 ac in seven core study villages and by 87
farmers in 27 ac in eighteen other villages. Triple-layered
bags were distributed among the farmers for safe storage of
seeds. A village-level seed bank was also established for
timely availability of quality seeds and to help farmers in
distress. Small-scale village-level millet processing mills
were also installed to encourage farmers to process and
consume their produce.
Given that a large part of India is under rainfed farming
and finger millet is primarily a crop that is grown in mar-
ginal and sub-marginal rainfed lands, the scope to increase
the area and production of this climate-resilient and less-
water-requiring nutritious cereal is immense. Appropriate
policy direction and support is required for this. Mini-kit
demonstrations and training programmes at different levels
will help in popularizing newly released varieties among
farmers and ensuring their availability to replace the low-
yielding local varieties. As discussed in the paper, just
change in cultivation practices led to substantial improve-
ment in yield even with farmers’ varieties. The recom-
mended package of practices such as line transplanting,
optimum row spacing, depth of transplanting, age of
seedlings, optimum plant population per unit area, timely
cultural practices for higher productivity have to be
explained to the farmers through on-farm demonstrations
and agricultural extension support systems. For instance,
the state government of Odisha has undertaken a special
5-year programme for promotion of millets in tribal areas
in partnership with non-government organizations
(http://www.milletsodisha.com/guidelines.htm). Essen-
tially, the focus of agriculture extension has to shift from
rice, wheat and commercial crops to these crops which are
often regarded as ‘women’s crops’ and ‘coarse cereals’ and
do not get the attention they deserve. On the research front,
the agriculture research system should give importance to
research on all aspects of millet cultivation and develop
efficient low-cost technology that is accessible to farmers
and easy to adopt. For instance, suitable mechanical devi-
ces can be developed and promoted to reduce the drudgery
Agric Res
123
of women farmers during weeding and harvesting of the
crop.
Since the crop is largely grown under subsistence
farming system and performs well even with no addition of
chemical inputs, they can be promoted as chemical-free or
organic millets; this will help them command a good
market price and help increase the income of tribal farmers.
Village-level millet processing units will support both,
better consumption by farmer households and also sale of
surplus produce. Training can also be given to women’s
groups or millet producer groups to prepare millet-based
value-added products and market linkage facilitated with
both local markets and neighbouring urban areas, thereby
strengthening the conservation–cultivation–consumption–
commerce chain.
The National Food Security Act (2013) provides for the
inclusion of millets in government food distribution pro-
grammes like the Public Distribution System (PDS), mid-
day meal in schools and Supplementary Nutrition
Programme (SNP) under the Integrated Child Development
Services (ICDS). The state of Karnataka commenced pro-
viding millets under the PDS from 2014. But the challenge
seems to lie in ensuring availability of sufficient quantity
for procurement [13]. Millet is a component of the fortified
pre-mix manufactured and given as take home ration in
many states under the SNP of ICDS. At least one millet-
based meal a week can be made mandatory under the
Midday Meal Programme in schools and noonmeal at
ICDS centres. Some states like Odisha have already com-
menced doing this. Given that there are a wide variety of
millets and production and consumption is spread across
the country and considering issues of shelf life, local
preference, etc., decentralized procurement linking local
farmers to the state institutional feeding programmes is
perhaps the way to go. Print and electronic media can be
effectively harnessed to communicate messages in local
languages relating to both millet cultivation targeting
farmers and benefits of millet consumption targeting
consumers.
In sum, comprehensive planning with favourable policy
formulation mainstreaming the nutrition dimension in
agriculture can give a thrust to millet cultivation and
contribute to a healthier community practicing climate-
smart agriculture. The experience also has wider relevance
to other developing countries where millets have been the
staple food crop.
Acknowledgements We acknowledge the staff members at Koraput
who collected and entered the data. A special thanks to Mr. S Raju for
the analysis of food consumption survey data. We also thank Dr.
R. Rengalakshmi and Dr. V.R. Prabavathy for their insightful com-
ments and suggestions on the draft version of this paper.
Author Contribution Paper conceptualization, literature survey,
compilation and analysis of data were carried out by AP. AKP
supervised the field research and collection of data. RVB contributed
particularly to Sects. 1and 4.
Funding This paper is part of the research generated by the Lever-
aging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research
consortium and is funded by UK Aid from the UK government. The
views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s
official policies.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of
interest.
Ethical Standard The study methods were approved by the Ethics
Committee of the Board of Trustees, M S Swaminathan Research
Foundation (MSSRF), India.
Informed Consent Oral informed consent was obtained from the
head of household before collecting household information and from
all subjects selected for nutrition status assessment.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unre-
stricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided
you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source,
provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if
changes were made.
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... Further to maintain yield stability and increase the yield, an increase in leaf photosynthesis efficiency is required in the changing climate 11 . Identification and improvement of native or traditional crops that are adaptive to local climate is one solution that can effectively resist biotic and/or abiotic stresses 12 . Several researchers advocated that locally available underutilized crop resources might possess high genetic variation and are important for climate resilience 6,13,14 . ...
... Koraput is also famous for minor millets which are conventionally grown and consumed by tribal farmers. In Koraput, finger millet is cultivated in about 16% of the total gross cropping area 12 . Different millet species are cultivated by tribal communities having varied duration of maturity and grains with variation in shape, size and colour under multiple cropping systems 19 ...
... They also showed better stomatal density and stomatal index, and exhibited better coping mechanism with changing environment 46 . To popularize millet production in Koraput region, Pradhan et al. 12 studied the pattern of crop productivity, labour requirement and profitability along with nutrition awareness initiatives among the tribal communities. They have suggested better agro-management practices that improve millet production and are suitable for climatesmart agriculture. ...
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Indigenous and wild crop resources play a significant role in food and nutrition security, and are also important resources for sustainable food systems under climate change. Koraput district, Odisha is one of the agro-biodiversity hotspots in India dominated by tribal communities. The plant genetic resources of this region are of significance not only for the diversity, but also their consumption pattern. The present study aimed to chronicle the nutritional value of selected neglected and underutilized crop species of Koraput. Although these plant species are useful for poor and marginalized farmers, they are largely ignored by the scientific community, breeders and policy-makers. Therefore, this study highlights the nutritional and climate-resilient traits of such species for conservation and further utilization. Mass consumption, commercialization and bio-prospecting of these valuable resources would be the right step for ensuring food and nutritional security in future climate change scenarios.
... Koraput valley of Eastern Ghats of India is one of the agro-biodiversity hot spots in India and home to a huge number of traditional nger millets (Pradhan et al. 2019). This region with varied agro-climatic conditions surrounded with thick forest and steep mountainous ranges favorable for millet cultivation by local tribes (Panda et al. 2020b). ...
... The traditional varieties grown by the farmers are likely to be lost shortly if measures are not taken to protect the valuable genetic resources. Recently, some research highlighted the cultivation practice, nutritional and genetic potentiality of nger millets from Koraput (Pradhan et al. 2019;Panda et al. 2020a, b). However, there is limited phenotypic knowledge in regards to panicle phenotyping and yield related traits. ...
... Thus, it is indicated that there was su cient variation of panicle characteristics in the studied genotypes, which provide ample scope for selecting superior genotypes and could be utilized in future breeding programs. Similarly, physiological variability in different underutilized nger millets from various parts of India also reported earlier by Panda et al. (2020b), Pradhan et al. (2019) and, Kumari and Singh (2015). ...
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Panicle phenotyping is most demanding targets in crop breeding programs as panicle is an important plant parts that influences the grain yield. Diversity of panicle traits were analyzed in 20 traditional finger millet genotypes and three hybrid varieties from Koraput valley of Eastern Ghats. Significant difference of panicle characteristics like panicle length, panicle number, panicle weight, flag leaf area, panicle angle and grain yield were observed in experimented finger millet genotypes. In regards to principal component analysis, the first two axis of principal component obtained 52.97% of total variation and reflected huge difference between explored genotypes. Highest positive loading was observed for leaf weight followed by panicle number, panicle weight and panicle length and leaf area and are the major determinant for phenotypic variability. All the studied traits showed maximized phenotypic coefficient of variation (PCV) over genotypic variation (GCV) and lower differences found among them. The genotypes showed maximum broad-sense of heritability value for grain yield (82.27%) and panicle weight (75.96%) compared to other traits. In addition, genetic advance as mean% (GAM) ranged from 11.01–29.26% and high GAM was recorded for panicle angle, leaf area, panicle weight, panicle number and yield. It revealed that these characters can be used as selection criteria in crop improvement program for improving grain yield. Traditional finger millet genotypes such as Bhadi, Murda, Telgu and Chilli recorded superior panicle traits and Limca and Kalia showed better grain yield at par with the hybrids, which can be utilized in future crop improvement program.
... Advancement in agricultural research, innovation, and policy continue to put a firm focus on increasing production of the three principal staple crops, rice, wheat, and maize, while other crops remain low in public and private investment (Grovermann et al. 2018;Verma et al. 2018). Worldwide food and nutrients transition make a speciality of precise solution to feed the expected population of nine billion by 2050, equitably, healthily, and sustainably (Pradhan et al. 2019). Each wheat and rice are fed on as delicate flour and polished rice; and due to their smooth appearance and flavor fullness, our traditional grains like bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), and rajgira (amaranth) have taken a back seat. ...
... One feasible solution is identifying and enhancing the yield of conventional or native vegetation which are particularly adaptive to neighborhood climate, have excessive nutrient cost, and may efficiently resist biotic and/or abiotic stresses. Those plants in large part fed on with the aid of indigenous communities across the globe are frequently referred to as coarse cereals or minor millets (Gull et al. 2014;Pradhan et al. 2019). The unexploited millets known as "nutri cereal" crops are slowly being rediscovered and researched through the agricultural research and development community Grovermann et al. 2018). ...
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Millets or nutri-cereals are high-energy foods; that were domesticated and cultivated as early as 10,000 years ago. The millets cultivation is taken up usually in degraded and marginal lands that receive very less rainfall and are poor in soil nutrient content. Seven important millets cultivated globally are finger millet, pearl millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, proso millet, kodo millet, and little millet. Overdependence on cereals after the green revolution and the present-day sedentary lifestyle of people has proliferated health-related disorders like obesity, diabetes, coronary diseases, gastrointestinal disorders and risk of colon, breast, and oesophageal cancer. The only way to fight back is through the introduction of nutritionally rich millets in our daily diets. Millets are unique for their richness in dietary fibers, antioxidants, minerals, phytochemicals, polyphenols, and proteins; that act as elixir to fight against health-related disorders. Recent global phenomenon of climate change has lead to a decrease in the yield of major staple cereals and has paved path for introduction of millets into agriculture production system to formulate climate resilient cropping systems because millets are C4 plants with very superior photosynthetic efficiency, short duration, higher dry matter production capacity, and a high degree of tolerance to heat and drought. Keeping the above advantages of millets, the efforts have hastened to collect, conserve, and utilize germplasm of millets in breeding programs. Of late, several private and government agencies have ventured into value addition of millets to manufacture food and non-food products. But, the governments have a key role in formulating policies to promote cultivation and consumption of millets.
... The Munda tribe noted that access to extension services focused on improved cultivation techniques and varietal types could improve finger millet yield, increasing availability for both household consumption and sales [29]. A study by Pradhan and colleagues [30] found that use of an improved finger millet crop varietal (GPU-67) along with recommended cultivation techniques and nutrition education resulted in 60% higher grain yield, 1.16 times more profit, decreased women's labor and an improvement in household consumption compared to baseline. Additional training focused on postharvest storage and retail sales could further improve all aspects of the finger millet value chain. ...
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... One feasible solution is identifying and enhancing the yield of conventional or native vegetation which are particularly adaptive to neighborhood climate, have excessive nutrient cost, and may efficiently resist biotic and/or abiotic stresses. Those plants in large part fed on with the aid of indigenous communities across the globe are frequently referred to as coarse cereals or minor millets (Pradhan et al. 2019). The unexploited millets are slowly being rediscovered and researched through the agricultural research and development community (Kumar 2016;Grovermann et al. 2018). ...
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About management of biotic and abiotic stresses in millets
... Sorghum can be utilised as an alternative to maize in cases of maize production failures [9]. Finger millet is nutritious being high in calcium, iron and magnesium [6]. However, despite all the advantages of growing millet and sorghum as a grain cereal in times of climate change induced drought there is low adoption of sorghum and millet production in the country, as the majority of communal farmers prefer maize to traditional small grains [4]. ...
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The adverse effects of climate change are hampering maize (Sub Saharan Africa's major staple cereal crop) production. Small grains are resilient to high temperatures and low rainfall that result from climate change. Small grains can be produced as an alternative to maize in times of climate change induced drought. However, the proportion of households that are in sorghum and millet production remains relatively lower to maize-producing households. This study sought to investigate the determinants of choice of sorghum and millet production in Zvimba District of Zimbabwe. Farming households (120) were selected from 6 wards through multistage sampling. A structured questionnaire was distributed to household heads. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse data. Binary logistic regression was used to analyse factors affecting choice of production of sorghum and millet. Results from the survey indicated that 59.2% of the interviewed farmers are into sorghum and millet production with 47.5% producing millet whilst 11.7% produce sorghum. Results of binary logistic regression indicated that age and training in small grain production significantly affect (p ≤ 0.05) the choice of producing small grains. Labour intensiveness, lack of market information, lack of certified seeds and lack of technical support were identified as the major constraints to sorghum and millet production. It was concluded that farmer's age, agriculture extension, market information, technical support, seeds and labour influence sorghum and millet production. The results of this finding will inform African farmers and stakeholders on the challenges that need to be addressed in small grain farming as a way of adapting to the changing climate.
... Presence of polyphenols led to reducing rate of fat concentration and slow release of sugars (low glycaemic index) and hence reduces the risk of heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure (Kumar et al. 2018). The finger millet in this zone is predominantly cultivated with traditional process on local traces like san mandia, bad mandia, chilli mandia, dussera mandia, and telenga mandia (Pradhan et al. 2019). Landa is consumed particularly during evening hour for refreshment and includes a process of germination and popping. ...
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Mishra AK, Bajpai R, Swain A. 2021. Finger millet-based staple beverages consumed by the Gadaba ethnic community of Odisha, India: Preparation and nutritive characteristics. Biodiversitas 22: 2737-2742. The indigenous food and beverages reflect the acquaintance of ethnic population to local environmental settings. Development of diet structure includes diversities in food and beverages depend on the ethnic knowledge they perceive from their ancestors as well as from the environmental determinants. The Gadaba ethnic community being native to the southern part of Odisha state in India, developed the art to sustain them through rain-fed agricultural crops like finger millet and upland rice. These traditional non-hybrid crops give different dimensions to their food and beverage structure. In this case, the study focussed on finger millet-based staple beverages consumed by Gadaba ethnic community of this region. The effort is given to discuss the complete indigenous preparation process and nutritional parameters concerning two indigenous indispensable fermented beverages named Landa and Pej. The nutritional analysis of these beverages proved it to be a promising diet structure for sustainability.
Chapter
Millets are coarse cereals belonging to the family Poaceae, which is cultivated since the ancient period of civilization. Among different millets, small or minor millets are treated as neglected crops due to their low-yield potential compared to major millets (sorghum and pearl millet) and fine cereals (rice, wheat and maize). In spite of their versatile qualities, small millets remained underutilized due to institutional promotion in favour of fine cereals. Recently, these coarse cereals are re-evaluated as ‘nutri-cereals’ considering their composition and nutritional value. In the present consequences of adverse impacts of climate change, the small millets also attracted the attention of growers and policy-makers as they are less demanding to external inputs, drought-tolerant and register a comparatively lower carbon footprint than other cereals. These beneficial impacts ensured the comeback of small millets after the institutional neglect for a few decades in the developing countries. Considering the food and nutritional security of the common people, small millets can be considered as suitable staples. The emerging health consciousness and food demand for the future pushed small millets to the forefront because of their ecological soundness and mitigating ability to climate change. However, the successful harvest of small millets warrants an integration of proven and climate-smart technologies for the fulfilment of the future needs of the ever-growing population. The chapter focused on all these aspects. Moreover, the research scope mentioned in the chapter implies future directions for enhancing small millet-based agriculture viable in diversifying food baskets and achieving food and nutritional security in a hunger-free society.
Chapter
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Minor millets are an agronomic community of genetically diverse species of cereal grasses, well adapted to a range of marginal growing conditions where major cereals are relatively ineffective, such as wheat, rice, and maize. Minor millets are grown in various soils in India, in varying rainfall regimes, and in areas where thermal and photographic cycles vary widely. Seven cultivated species, viz., finger millet, barnyard millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, little millet, kodo millet, and browntop millet represent minor millets. These millets provide millions of households with highly nutritious food and livelihood security, especially small and marginal farmers and residents of rainfed areas, particularly in remote tribal areas. They are now no longer referred to as coarse cereals but as nutricereals or nutraceutical crops, and are considered as a plausible answer to combat malnutrition and secret hunger worldwide. Indian tribal groups have a special link to minor millets as these crops have been an integral component of their agricultural systems and operations. Minor millets are being used by them from time immemorial not only to fight hunger but also for ethnomedical uses. This chapter emphasizes on the potential of minor millets for combating hunger, malnutrition and for ensuring food and nutritional security for tribal communities and discusses the initiatives being taken by the government and civil societies to promote millets-based farming system in India. Since these small millets have the capacity to cope up with the situation of current climate aberrations, it is imperative to increase the quality and productivity of these crops not only for tribal people living in harsh and difficult terrains but also for other masses living in suitable areas.
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Finger millet is amongst the major crops of Uttaranchal. Over the years there has been rapid decline both in production and consumption of millets. Chemical composition of finger millet revealed that total carbohydrate content of finger millet has been reported to be in the range of 72 to 79.5%. Finger millet has nearly 7% protein but large variations in protein content from 5.6 to 12.70% have been reported by various studies. Total ash content is higher in finger millet than in commonly consumed cereal grains. The ash content has been found to be nearly 1.7 to 4.13% in finger millet. Calcium content of 36 genotypes of finger millet ranged from 162 to 487 mg %. Singh and Srivastava (2006) reported the iron content of 16 finger millet varieties ranged from 3.61 mg/100g to 5.42 mg%. Finger millet is the richest source of calcium and iron. Calcium deficiency leading to bone and teeth disorder, iron deficiency leading to anemia can be overcome by introducing finger millet in our daily diet. Maximum utilization of the nutrient potential of the millet is limited by the presence of phytates, phenols, tannins and enzyme inhibitors but their effect can be reduced by using processing techniques like popping, roasting, malting and fermentation. The use of these techniques not only decreases the content of antinutrients but increases the bioavailability of certain minerals like calcium and iron. Composite flours made by using finger millet can be used for preparation of various nutrient dense recepies which can be effectively used for supplementary feeding programs.