“Explore the key takeaways from the ‘Accelerating Growth of Integrated Agriculture Value Chains in Maharashtra’ event, focusing on Millets and Edible Oil Seeds. Understand the significance of millets, declared the International Year of Millets by the UN, and discover insights shared by agricultural experts.”

I attended an event ‘Accelerating Growth of Integrated Agriculture Value Chains in Maharashtra” organized by IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry’ on 15th May, 2023. Following is the  update on the event.

The event included three commodities that are  grown on  fairly large scale in Maharashtra: Millets, Edible Oil Seeds and Cotton. However, I am not covering the discussions on  cotton here.

MILLETS:

Millets (like, Raagi, Bajra, Jwari, etc)  are rich in nutrients but there is no awareness among  the Millennial. Recognising this forgotten Super Food, and on India’s  suggestion, United  Nations (Food & Agricultural Organaisation) has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nicknamed millets as “Sree Anna” meaning sacred food.

IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry, rightly in support thereof, organized an event on Millets, Edible Oil Seeds and Cotton the three commodities which are grown on a fairly large scale in Maharashtra. An array of distinguished speakers included  Mr. Nadir Godrej, Mr. Suresh Kotak, Mr. Sandeep Bajoria,  Mr. G. Chandrashekhar,  Textile Commissioner and agricultural scientists.

Mr. Abdul Sattar, Agriculture Minister- Maharashtra,  graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. In his address he highlighted the following:

– Importance of educating/assisting the farmers  to increase the yield  in their holdings;

– Training children of farmers on the technical advancement in agriculture;

– Maharashtra  state charges just Re.1/- to insure farmers.

Since IMC has wide base of knowledge pool, the Minister sought assistance and ideas from IMC to educate the formers of the state to increase their yield per acre.

The main reasons for promoting millets are:

– They are rich in nutrients. No need to take vitamins;

– They require much less water when compared to rice cultivation and so are draught resistant;

 – This way, Millets are environment-friendly.

The Minister added with a view of promote this nutrient, the state has commenced Maharashtra Millet Mission.

It is said that in India, millets are grown by farmers mainly because there is no other option for them.

Two officials from Indian Navy were sitting next to me. Wondering the reason about their presence as there was no Navy person in the list of speakers or guests of honour, I asked them in what context they are here. One of them explained that they are from INS Hamla, and our armed forces would like to train their chefs in preparation of foodstuff from millets in view of their nutritional values.

Dr. Dayakar Rao, Principal Scientist-ICAR ( with affiliation from Indian Institute of Millets Research) said they offer training programs in millet culinary.

EDIBLE OIL SEEDS

As per an agricultural scientist: On global level, India

– is fourth largest producer of edible oil seeds;

– produces 10% of global production of edible oilseeds;

– is the second largest importer of edible oils;

– imports about 65% of edible oils consumed in the country;

– consumes 18.2 liters of edible oil per capita per year, while 19 liters is the global average.  (in USA it is  30 liters per capita per year).

International Year of Millets

Mr. Sandeep Bajoria said that three major edible oilseeds that are grown in India are Groundnut, Soya bean and Mustard seed which account for about 90% of edible oilseeds output. As regards the yield of soya bean it is 3200 kgs per hectare in Argentina and Brazil while it is a lowly 1100 kgs in India which is about a third of what is produced in these countries. He therefore suggested that our farmers should be taken to the demonstration farms where technology is used so they get awareness on the need to increase yield in their holdings.

He said that Argentina and Brazil are the largest exporters of soya bean oil.

Speaking about the Indian scenario of edible oils, Mr. Bajoria explained that India produces about 100 lakh MT, while it imports  about 140 lakh MT of edible oils every year. This translates to about 15 billion US Dollars outgo per year which is India’s 2nd largest import bill after the crude (petrol).  If we could only improve yield per hectare it would reduce import bill to a large extent, he said.

Mr. Bajoria said that India’s Oil Palm project is a welcome initiative and accounts for 3 to 4 lakh MT. Groundnut production is 65 lakh MT, Soya bean 10 lakh MT. In view of India’s low productivity of edible oilseeds, only 40 to 45% of crushing capacity is used.

Replying to a query from the audience whether cotton seed oil contains gossypol which is a harmful substance,  Mr. Bajoria clarified  that gossypol gets removed while refining and does not go into the oil . He further said that cotton seed oil, known in Gujarat as kapsia tel,  is best for frying purposes.

Mr. Chandrashekhar  said that India has already seen Green Revolution and White Revolution, and what is needed now is the Brown Revolution. He suggested that India should allow more and more import of edible oilseeds so that it would generate more employment as crushing capacity is utilized in full. He suggested that farmers in states like Punjab, Haryana and western UP should be encouraged to grow edible oilseeds so that more areas would come under edible oil seeds. He said that there should be robust procurement system. He said that our crushing technology is age old system.

Mr. Chandrashekhar suggested six policy actions:

1. Government should regulate oil imports;

2. Credit period should be less like 30 days or so instead of 60, 90, days;

3. Government should restart supplying edible oils through public distribution system;

4. Instead of importing edible oils, edible oilseeds be allowed to be imported;

5. There should be Modernization Fund;

6. Backward integration- crushers should have their own edible oilseed farms.

The finale

As proposed by Dr. Dayakar Rao, Principal Scientist-ICAR,  and  also affiliation from  Indian Institute of Millet Research, the audience took oath to make it a habit to consume some portion of millets every day.

******

Author: Guruprakash N. Bhambore, Secretary, The Bombay Commodity Association Ltd

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Author Bio

Qualification: Graduate
Company: The Bombay Commodity Association Ltd
Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Member Since: 03 Apr 2023 | Total Posts: 6
My career spans about 47 years in Export companies and Trade Associations. View Full Profile

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