Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said nearly 4 lakh hectare area of rice fallow will be used for oilseeds cultivation in 100 districts of 10 states as part of the government's efforts to boost domestic output and reduce imports of edible oils. The minister was addressing a webinar on 'Smart Agriculture: Bringing Back Glory of Millets; Moving Towards Aatmanirbharta in Edible Oil'. Moreover, he said 230 high-yielding districts of oilseeds have been identified.
Nearly 20 lakh hectare area will also be brought under intercropping of oilseeds in next 5 years, an official statement quoted Goyal as saying. India imported edible oils worth Rs 1.17 lakh crore during 2020-21 marketing year ended October 2021, according to trade data. With emphasis on millets, India is going back to its roots like Yoga, the minister said. “Bringing back the glory of millets will make the country Aatmanirbhar in 3 areas-- Food, Nutrition & Economy,” Goyal said. Suggesting four 'mantras' to make India a leading exporter of millets he said, states can duplicate the success of Karnataka's fruits model for crop diversification with a focus on millets.
Moreover, there is a need to collaborate with agri startups to provide the latest technology to ensure quality and aid in bio-fortification of millets. He said campaigns should be launched to create awareness regarding health and nutrition benefits of millets. There is also a need for international outreach to promote Brand India Millets. Stressing that India produces all nine common millets, the minister pointed out that it is the second-largest producer and second-largest exporter of millets in the world.
He added that the government has undertaken reforms which have led to the highest procurement of foodgrains from farmers at minimum support price (MSP). “Today, India is set on a path to become Aatmanirbhar. In this mission, the Government is working towards realizing the image of a self-reliant farmer with the best crops,” he said. T Mohapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE) and DG, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said that the year 2023 has been announced as the International Year of Millets. He noted that support will be provided for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption & branding millets products nationally and internationally. Ragi, jowar and bajra are some of the important millets.