Karnataka government today said it is coming out with a special package of about Rs 34 crore to increase the acreage under millets and its production in the state. “To encourage cultivation of millets, by converging different programmes, we have planned a programme of about Rs. 34 crore and it will be implemented as a package,” Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda told reporters here. He said about 393 farming clusters would be formed under which millets will be grown in about 100 hectares each so that it will be easy to connect them with the companies and markets in order to fetch a better price and also help in processing. Millets like Ragi, Jowar and Pearl Millet (sajje) are grown in 17 lakh hectares and the agriculture department plans to increase it by another two lakh hectares this year, he said.
Minor millets like Foxtail Millet (Navane), Kodo millet (Harka), Little Millet (Same), Proso Millet (Baragu) are grown in about 20,000 hectares and the plan is to increase it to 40,000 hectares this year. Gowda said one of the most important components of this program is a cash incentive of about Rs. 2,500 per hectare to be provided to farmers as direct benefit transfer. “We are doing this to increase acreage under millets and also its production keeping in its health benefits and its drought resistant capability,” he said. Gowda also expressed his unhappiness over Minimum Support Price announced on various crops by the central government. Noting that on an average inflation had been increasing by 6 percent, Gowda said if the farmer’s income is to be increased, MSP should see more than six per cent rise.
“If we give 5 per cent (increase), it will impact farmers’ earning. Governments in the past used to increase MSP by 15 per cent every year deliberately to improve farmers’ income,’ he said. “If the present government is concerned about farmers according to me they should have at least given 10 per cent increase in MSP,” he added. Terming the current rates fixed as “unsustainable”, Gowda said the state government had urged the central government to consider increasing MSP on different crops.
“It is unfortunate as it will have an impact on the farmers’ income and also aggravate the agrarian crisis the country is facing,” he added. Pointing out that central government’s statutory advisory body on farm prices – CACP’s (Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices) recommendations on MSP had also not been considered, he said MSP is lower than the inflation rate. “The move is definitely contrary to central government’s talk about doubling farmers income,” he added.