At a time when a majority of farmers in Punjab are trapped within the wheat and paddy rising cycle and reluctant to develop another crops, a progressive farmer from Gurdaspur district has bucked the pattern by opting to develop millets on his land.
“I have been mainly growing small millets which are not very popular in the state but these are highly beneficial for our health,” says Gurmukh Singh, a farmer from Rangeelpur village in Gurdaspur district’s Batala subdivision.
Within the Nineteen Fifties, round 11 lakh hectares in Punjab have been underneath millet cultivation. This has now come right down to round 1,000 hectares. In the meantime, millets are grown for cattle fodder on round 1.50 lakh hectares.
Singh says he went again to the fundamentals a long time in the past to develop these conventional grains, making his enterprise commercially viable along with his out-of-the-box considering. He has been rising millets, the standard crop of Punjab, on round 7 acres and has additionally been offering free seeds to farmers throughout the state to encourage them to develop millets, he provides.
9 forms of millets are grown in India, together with main millets bajra (pearl millet), jawar (sorghum) and ragi (finger millet) and small millets kodo or kodra millet, kutki/sama (little millet), kangni (foxtail), chena (proso millet), korale (browntop millet), and jhangora/sawan (barnyard millet). In Punjab, bajra and jowar are primarily grown and they’re sown through the Kharif season (April to October).
Singh began rising small millets in 2016 and is the primary farmer in Punjab to develop all 9 millets, particularly kodra. “We need 38 gm fibre dose daily and if one is consuming kodra in any form, one can get 32 gm of required daily fibre from it. Chapati, pulao, idli, dosa, laddu, vermicelli, pasta, burfi, pakora, tikki etc. can be made from millet grain,” he says.
“I visited the Indian Institute of Millets Research in Hyderabad where I learnt about the millets as I used to listen a lot about kodra from my mother but never got the chance to taste it,” he says. “When I went to IIMR, there was no end to my happiness when I saw millets there and decided to grow it in my fields after procuring seed from there,” he provides. Singh now devoted round 7-8 acres out of a complete of 11 acres of his land to millet cultivation.
Singh arrange the primary millet processing unit within the state. “I also put up a ‘millet Langar’ on the occasion of the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji in Sultanpur Lodhi in 2019 and distributed free millet seeds to farmers while making three appeals to them: don’t use fertilisers or pesticides on it, use this free seed to grow millets and distribute free seeds further…at least, do not serve pesticide-laced food to your children,” he says.
Speaking about yield and its advertising, he says millets could be grown on all forms of land, together with not-so-fertile land, and the period lasts from 3 to five months, relying on its kind. Singh says he doesn’t see any advertising issues both as a result of there may be nice demand for these in Punjab.
“I am getting 16 quintals kodra yield per acre, 8-9 quintals kangni, and between 6 to 8 quintals per acre of other small millets like kutki and sawan,” he says, including that farmers have to get used to rising such crops which might be good for well being, soil, water desk, and air.
With 2023 being declared the Worldwide Yr of Millets by the UN, the federal government, he says, can promote millets by giving correct coaching to farmers and arranging for seeds. It might probably additionally open processing items in order that precious merchandise could be made and offered, additional including to farmers’ incomes.
“Our only motto is Guru Nanak Dev’s ‘kheti apnao, mittee, hawa, pani, the sehat banao’ (adopt Guru Nana Dev’s crop pattern and protect your soil, air water and health,” he says, including that the primary Sikh Guru used to develop millets.
Singh has additionally been practising natural farming for the previous a number of years and grows a number of different crops like pulses, basmati, wheat and a few spices on his farm. He sells these on to customers in addition to at his outlet situated in Batala.