This is the third year of promoting Finger Millet in the region. Previous year 126 farmers harvested finger millet which had a good impact on the local population. Being a drought resistant crop, around 400 farmer bought seeds and 126 could harvest 3.4 tons (confirmed data). Previous year the rainfall was quite low, due to which the rice cultivation was a complete failure. But finger millet survived the dry conditions and returned quite a good amount of produce. We witnessed very clearly, how finger millet survived when rice could not even give any return. You can see the photograph of a field where millet and rice was cultivated together but the result was quite astonishing.
This is evidence, which we are now using to motivate our farmers to restart this traditional drought resistant crop this year. We have developed a small 4 minutes movie to promote finger millet among local population. We have completed millet recipe demonstration in 30 villages which was to promote millet as a nutritious diet in rural area. Millet recipe demonstration has influenced a large number of women and men to restart the crop and use it as a major food.
Due to extreme heat during April and May, our common promotional programmes were not very successful as bringing people together was very difficult. Therefore we thought to do the promotion in each village separately.
Photographs of promotional programmes:
People have been very responsive to finger millet compared to previous year. We are half way through the promotion and see a lot of interest among people. I think more than 500 farmers will be ready to cultivate finger millet this time. Not only this but some of the farmers from our villages are requesting Pearl millet and Great millet seeds which are traditional drought resistant crops. It is an amazing experience of the project to see the interest of so many farmers to restart these traditional crops. It is a major behaviour change among people in two to three years of time. They are not only talking about the drought resistance capacity of these crops but now they know the high nutritional components in these crops.
As we know only knowledge will not bring behaviour change but knowledge with repeated action is required to bring change in behaviour, we are ensuring that families eat millet. And this effort has brought some amount of success this year. One of the evidence which made our team feel so happy was the response of our farmers who don’t want to sell millet but want to keep it for food. Recently, we wanted to buy 2 quintals of finger millet from our target area. When we asked some of our farmers who had more than 50 kg production, whether they want to sell some amount,they refused saying that they want to eat. These same farmers two years back were asking if they cultivate finger millet where can they sell it and complaining about the unavailability of market, now don’t want to sell. This is a major behaviour change among some of the families regarding consumption of finger millet we have experienced.
This year we are doing our best to promote this crop as the condition seems to be drought. If they don’t get anything else, some amount of finger millet can be produced. This will not only secure their food for some months but also add to their nutritional needs during drought.
We are also looking for pearl millet and great millet seeds to make available for our farmers. We will be continuing this through the coming months and would update about the progress.