`Mandia falls pray to modern food habits
Sudhir Mishra | Balangir
Nutrient-rich food ragi, locally called as mandia, is fast missing from the common men's diet these days.
Unfortunately, this crop, rich in protein, minerals and natural vitamins, is vanishing fast from the daily food habit of the people of drought prone areas of Balangir, thanks to the change of food habits, impact of television, modernisation and other social factors associated with it, pushing mandia consumption into oblivion.
This 100-day crop, which grows well in moisture stress condition, is largely harvested by poor people of Titilagarh, Muribahal, Tureikel, Bongomunda and Belapda in June and July. Yet its production is not going up. Agricultural office sources reveal that a hectare of land yields only 5.5 to 6 quintals of mandia.
This low production of mandia from one hectare of land is because of the traditional method of cultivation and use of traditional seed with less application of appropriate fertilisers in this district, explains an agricultural official.
According to official sources, mandia has been cultivated in 3,525 hectare in 2006 which came down to 3,310 hectares in 2007 and again it has gloomily upped to 3,510 hectare in 2008.
The consumption of mandia not only keeps the stomach cool in summer but it acts as an ideal natural medicine for diabetes patients.
Notwithstanding its rich medical value, one of the major reasons for this crop not receiving much attention is the thrust of producing more paddy and change of food habits among the people.
Large scale cultivation of this crop is gradually dwindling owing to its low market price.
Some traders are purchasing the item from the village point at prices less than it deserves.
Steps should be taken to increase mandia cultivation by enhancing its market value, says Siddheshwar Majhi, a tribal youth of Titiligarh
To revive the consumption of mandia along with its medicinal values, it requires a wide scale media hype, views an official.
The perception of poor man's food attached with this crop should be removed to encourage the rate of consumption and ultimately the rate of mandia production, he said.
Minor millets cultivation to be revived in Balangir
Sudhir Mishra | Balangir
Even as the entire world is worried over food crisis, starvation, malnutrition, greenhouse gas emission, and solution to these problems, farmers of Balangir could show the whole world, by cultivating minor millet crops namely Kudo, Mandia and Gurjee, which requires less chemical fertilisers and water and at the same time ensures the food security of poor and marginalised farmers of this district.
Minor millets like Kudo, Gurjee and Mandia are grown in the Att land of the district. It requires less fertilisers, pesticides and water and grows well in the Att land. Farmers require very small investment for cultivation of these crops.
The production of these minor millets helps to feed the poor farmers during the food stress period of a year in the month of July, August and September.
With the introduction of high-yielding variety crops which requires heavy water, chemical fertilisers and insecticides, this important crop has been put in the back burner and has been neglected.
This low-cost indigenously available important crop, which ensures food security of poor farmers and help them to adapt to the climate change, should be revived.
A tie-up with Gene Campaign, New Delhi headed by eminent scientist Suman Sahai is to be taken up soon, informed the Regional Manager of ActionAid, Amarjyoti Nayak while addressing the members of Samuhik Marudi Pratikar Udyam, a network of CBO (community based organisation) and NGOs at Balangir recently.
Under this programme, farmers' club would be formed in the villages. Moreover, they would also be trained about seed preservation and production and storage, he said.
Even as this district produces huge quantity of non-timber forest produce (NTFP) like mahul, char, broomstick, etc yet the poor farmers don't get the announced remunerative prices and they have to sell the produce at distress rate. The Samuhik Marudi Pratikar Udyam decided to prevent the distress and underrate sale of mahul, char, broomstick and other NTFPs in the forthcoming season.
Besides, the meet also decided to take up other issues like child migration, sustainable agriculture and proper implementation of NREGA and different food rights schemes in the district.