VIJAYAWADA: The state government is contemplating introducing millets through Public Distribution System (PDS) on the lines of rice from next year, which is to be celebrated as the year of millets. In fact, the Central government has already given clearance for the distribution of two types of millets – white jowar (Sorghum) and finger millet (Ragi) — through PDS.
Both the crops are also cultivated in the State and is part of the diet in the Rayalaseema region.
Millets have already been introduced in PDS in Karnataka and Telangana, which have close cultural ties and a similar eating habits like some parts of Andhra Pradesh.
According to a senior official, modalities are being worked out as regards to target groups, procurement procedure, warehousing, quantum of ration etc.
Asserting that it will not be forced upon the card holders, but left to their choice, sources in the department said there is sizable population, which prefer the millets over paddy.
Further, learning from the previous efforts to introduce millets through PDS, it is being contemplated to procure millets on the lines of paddy from the farmers, process it and distribute through PDS like subsidy rice.
This way, officials felt that cultivation of millets gets encouraged, thereby reducing the farmers’ suffering losses due to cultivation of paddy in unsuitable lands. At the same time, people get nutritious food, as millets are considered power packs of proteins.
In fact, a pilot project was taken up in 2018, but the procurement was done through tendering process, which did not benefit the farmers. Now, more emphasis is on benfiting the farmers and at the same time benfiting the consumers.
According to experts, the reason for the emphasis on the cultivation of millets is climate change and future food security, with millet being an economically viable and less water-intensive crop.
Compared to paddy, which requires 1,200 mm of rain (water) per season, millets need less than half that amount. Healthwise, millets have a low Glycemic Index (GI) value, which is less than 50, while rice has a high GI value. The lower the GI of a specific food, the less it may affect your blood sugar level.