Bhubaneswar: A total of 52 delegates comprising students and professors of NIT Calicut, Kerala, under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat initiative visited Bhubaneswar on December 2 to see and learn about the exemplary work being carried out through Odisha Millets Mission to promote the ancient nutri-grains in Odisha. The delegates visited Krushi Bhavan where a presentation on the Odisha Millets Mission was made by Scheme Officer of Odisha Millets Mission, Kalpana Pradhan, providing a comprehensive overview of the mission’s objectives and achievements.
Former Joint Director of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, and Technical Expert, WASSAN, Sailendra Mohanty, provided insights into the Odisha Millets Mission and answered the queries asked by the engineering students.
The purpose of the delegates’ visit was to learn about the best practices adopted by Odisha Millets Mission for millet promotion and how the mission has established a stature of its own far and wide, giving a niche identity to these ancient grains.
Addressing the students, Dr Arabinda Kumar Padhee, Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, said, “The specialty of Odisha Millets Mission is its inclusiveness. In Odisha, millet is grown mostly by tribal farmers having marginal land. People see millet as a climate-resilient crop with a lot of nutritional value. But we also talk about equity and justice. We ensure that a tribal farmer gets the benefits at the end. Farmers are given incentives through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to motivate them to grow millets. We ensure procurement of marketable surplus finger millets from the farmers at the minimum support price. And then distribute the procured millets through the public distribution system in the state. Also, we have been carrying out massive consumer awareness for the consumption of millets in the state. Odisha Millets Mission has been awarded at numerous platforms for its exemplary work. Recently, the mission received the “Global Model for Millet Promotion” award at the International Nutri-Cereals Convention 5.0 held in Hyderabad.”
Following the presentation session, the delegates took a round of the Krushi Bhavan, an architectural marvel in the country. While giving information about the building, Dr Padhee also explained the month-wise agriculture plan engraved on the tiles in the courtyard to the students. The delegates visited the Millet Shakti Outlet in the building and interacted with a few WSHG members who run it.
The Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was launched in 2015 by the Central Government on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is widely known for his effort to boost national unity. The programme aims to encourage people to learn about and connect with their neighbouring states and Union territories to promote India’s rich cultural heritage, diversity, and national integration. By facilitating partnerships between different states and Union territories, the programme hopes to boost cross-cultural and institutional learning across the country with the ultimate goal of promoting the ideas of ‘One Nation’ and ‘Unity in Diversity’. Overall, Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat strives to bring states/UTs together in the spirit of learning, understanding, and appreciating one another to strengthen the feeling that India is one nation. In 2023, which is the third year of this programme, IIM Sambalpur has been chosen as the nodal agency from Odisha for coordination and support.
The budding engineers were impressed by their visit to the Krushi Bhavan and learning about the Odisha Millets Mission. Dr. Satyananda Panda, Professor, Department of Mathematics, School of Natural Science, National Institute of Technology (NIT), Calicut, Kerala; and Prof Ramakrishna Padhy, IIM, Sambalpur, who led the team of young engineers expressed their gratitude to the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment for providing the insight to the Odisha Millets Mission during the trip.