India is developing different types of millet to be more disease resistant.
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Developing Millet Varieties in India
Host: Scientists realized that asking farmers to grow millet for their own good is not enough. They must sell it for cash too.
Bala Ravi: That’s the dilemma. We can’t just be evangelists and tell them. If tapioca gets more money, then they are poor, they want to have money, not only money but assured market.
Oliver King: That is why the Swaminathan Foundation especially with reference to this particular issue they are creating an economic stake in conservation and it's very important.
Bala Ravi: We want the farmer instead of selling the raw harvest at a low rate, want to enhance its value by various processing methods by which we are supply the various machineries We are giving them capacity, increase the capacity for processing them, train them for this particular thing and then we have created a market linkage so that they can bring out their own entrepreneurship and enhance it.
Host: Agricultural scientists in Bangalore are also busy developing millet varieties to make them more disease resistant and to give them greater yields.
KT Krishne Gowda: We are developing the production technology. We are trying to fine tune it, keeping the objective of minimizing the cost and enhancing the productivity. So the farmer is benefited by growing this crop.
Host: Experts complain that millet lacks investment
E. G. Ashok: The institutional support is required for production of new varieties and the development of production packages and also plant production package.
Krishne Gowda: What is happening is that the rice and the wheat they have been in the public distribution system, but the force is not there for these millet crops.
Host: The force is in the public distribution system. It’s a network of government shops where people can buy subsidized rice but not millet.
Alok Sinha: More than 98% of the people of India – they eat rice indeed, and it has been so for centuries. So if the government wants to have a full security for its citizens then wheat and rice have to be given prime importance. So therefore wheat and rice is subsidized both for the farmer who grows it and for the consumer who eats it.
Prof. Swaminathan: We recommended that the food security basket, the public distribution system should be enlarged, not only wheat and rice but all the millets. If it's Kolli Hills area or the Namakal as we see them that public distribution system should include all these grains.
Alok Sinha: Right now, for what are known as coarse grains like millet and maize, the open market price levels are far above the minimum support level. It is not true that we neglect millet and other coarse grains. It’s just that they don’t as of now, because of market price conditions, need our support.
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