Millets are a cereal crop used for food, fodder and nutrition. They can grow in regions with 400 mm annual rainfall, air temperatures up to 40 Degrees Celsius with minimum inputs and in dry, arid and barren soil – proving to be an excellent alternative to paddy and wheat that are far resource intensive and more popular.
Currently, farmers sell their produce to middlemen that have processing centers atleast 100 km away. They get lesser price for their produce while also having to spend on regular transportation. This discourages to consume their crop as earning that unit price is more crucial.
Water intensive crop like rice which makes up 44% of the country’s cereal production are not suitable for the changing climate. Water stagnation has raised many environmental concerns wrt emissions.
Millet processing units include a grader, destoner, dehuller, polisher (optional) and flour milling machine to pulverise for value added products like flour. This scaled down version of a large capacity machine to suit to more farmer needs can be powered by solar panels, increasing reliability of the system.
1. Millets were being grown in India but were substituted by other commercial varieties, DRE based millet processing units promote the revival of millet cultivation.
2. Farmers can process their own crop with reduced drudgery, and sell it for higher income. Cleaning activities are usually undertaken by women, fostering more gender equality.
3. Farmers can also consume their own produce
4. Reduced transaction costs for farmers as transportation decreases significantly
5. By-products of are used as fodder when processed near the farm, but centralized processing systems usually dump it in landfills
0.4 coal fired plants can be avoided if moved from centralised to decentralised millet processing units. This has a GHG mitigation potential of 2052.92 kgCO2e/unit/year
As intensity and frequency of droughts increase, rainfed crops like millets are a boon to farmers in resource-starved areas to ensure produce – for subsistence and earning livelihoods. They are low-input needing less pesticides and weedicides – maintaining soil integrity. Millets also decrease soil erosion, add to agricultural diversity.