India: DDS Caravan for Biodiversity lauds Telangana's women farmers for cultivating millets Print E-mail


 Monday January 14, 2019

The two-decade journey of Biodiversity Festival

Special Correspondent

A member of Deccan Development Society decorating a bullock cart to be taken in procession on the eve of Biodiversity Festival, in Sangareddy on Sunday. (Mohd Arif)
SANGAREDDY: Month-long festival to commence at Arjun Naik Tanda today

It’s almost been two decades since the Biodiversity Festival (Pata pantala Jatara) has been initiated by Deccan Development Society (DDS) near Zaheerabad.

Creating awareness
This year, the DDS has decided to celebrate the festival in new villages, through which the decked-up bullock carts would travel, creating awareness among villagers about the importance of biodiversity.

As many as 16 bullock carts have already been moved to the villages for the event.

Every year, the month-long festival begins on January 14. The bullock carts travel through several villages before culminating at Machanur, the activity centre of DDS. On Monday, the festival would commence at Arjun Naik Tanda in Zaheerabad mandal and conclude at Pastapur on February 13. The bullock cart procession would pass through 23 villages in Zaheerabad, Kohir and Mogudampally mandals, of which about 80% are new ones. State Civil Supplies Commissioner Akun Sabarval would participate in the inaugural programme.

The festival has made villagers understand what biodiversity is. They now know their valuable heritage and the need to protect it,” said DDS director P.V. Satheesh.

 Tuesday January 15, 2019

‘Study needed on millet inclusion under PDS’

By R. Avadhani

Civil Supplies Commissioner Akun Sabarwal honouring a woman farmer at Arjunnayak Tanda in Sangareddy on Monday.

ARJUN NAIK TANDA (SANGAREDDY DT.): Moving from food security to nutritional security: Civil Supplies Commissioner

Commissioner of Civil Supplies Akun Sabharwal has underscored the need for a study on introduction of millets into the public distribution system (PDS), stating that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that no citizen is forced to go to bed on an empty stomach.

Addressing a gathering of farmers here on Monday before inaugurating the month-long biodiversity festival in this village under Zaheerabad mandal, Mr. Sabharwal said the Deccan Development Society (DDS), which is organising the festival, is moving from food security to nutritional security, and millet farmers will play a key role in this process.

“Marginalised sections of women are inching towards social and economic autonomy by cultivating millets. Millets in PDS needs a distinctive approach. We are conducting a study on the supply of bajra,” he said adding that the government cannot force the farmer what to cultivate and that it is the prerogative of the farmer.

Later speaking to reporters, Mr Sabharwal said other States such as Odisha have evinced interest in studying Telangana government’s Rythu Bandhu scheme. Responding to a question, he said there was bumper harvest of paddy in the State and so far, 36 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has been procured and it was expected to reach 39 lakh metric tonnes. He attributed the increase in procurement to enhancement of minimum support price and heavy rains.
DDS director P.V. Satheesh expressed serious concern over increasing cultivation of cotton at the cost of millets in this region. He said the cotton cultivation will not benefit the farmer, the women or the soil. He also stressed the need for procurement of millets from the farmers.

Two women farmers, Chandi Bai and Anjamma, explained the advantages of cultivating multiple crops.
Dr. V. Rukmini Rao, director, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, and Prof. S Galab, director of Centre for Economic and Social Studies were amongst the speakers.
Friday January 18, 2019

BPL families’ long wait for millets on their plates

By R. Avadhani

Visitors tasting cooked millets at a stall during the recently-held Mobile Biodiversity Festival at Arjunayak Tanda in Sangareddy district. (Mohd Arif)

Country on the nutritional security path sans healthy food
Despite repeated appeals by farmers in the State cultivating millets, the government is yet to take a decision on supplying millets through the public distribution system (PDS). Though authorities admit that the country is moving from food security to nutritional security, they were non-committal about introducing the nutritional food – millets - for the poor, who mostly need it.

Millets are being grown extensively in 75 villages spread in four mandals including Raikod, Nyalakal, Jarasangam and Zaheerabad mandals by women farmers being encouraged by the Deccan Development Society (DDS), which has been working for the past three-and-a-half decades. Farmers are growing millets on about 5,000 acres in this area and there is strong demand by the farmers, particularly from this area, to include millets in the PDS. They argue that there is not even a single procurement centre for millets though there are several procurement centres for paddy, cotton and other crops.

Falling cultivation

Consequently, area under millet cultivation is getting reduced to alarming levels and the situation has reached a stage that there’s no fodder and soil health too is deteriorating. It has been replaced by cotton.

For instance, in 2008, cotton was grown in 2,086 hectares as against 1,814 hectares of jowar in Jarasangam mandal followed by 310 hectares of cotton/4,359 hectares of jowar in Zaheerabad mandal, 473 hectares of cotton/2,961 hectares of jowar in Nyalakal mandal and in Raikod mandal, cotton was grown on 1,781 hectares as against the jowar cultivation on 1,768 hectares.

By 2017, cotton growth has increased to 5,890 hectares against 150 hectares of jowar followed by 6640 hectares of cotton/ 348 hectares of jowar in Nyalakal mandal and 10,787 hectares of cotton against 98 hectares in Raikode mandal.
No procurement centres
In Jarasangam mandal cotton was cultivated in 200 hectares followed by jowar on 80 hectares, according to data available with DDS.

Though the DDS has been coming forward to buy millets from farmers offering better price, the government has not done so in opening procurement centres, as demanded by farmers.

Akun Sabharwal, Commissioner, Civil Supplies, who recently visited Arjun Naik Tanda in Zaheerabad mandal to participate in Bio-Diversity Festival by DDS said the government needs to make a careful study before introducing millets in PDS.

“Once we introduce millets in PDS, we have to ensure supply and see that more number of farmers are ready to cultivate them,” he pointed out.