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Centre declares ’18 as year of millets; Organic and Millet Fair begins
Saturday, 20 January, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
On the opening day of the International Trade Fair on Organics and Millets, which is underway in Bengaluru, the government of India declared 2018 as the year of millets, just as the cereal crop gained prominence as a staple and nutritious diet across sections of the society.

Sadananda Gowda, minister of statistics and programme implementation, government of India, made the declaration at the opening ceremony of the three- day event, which will conclude on January 21, 2018.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and state agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda emphasised their efforts to promote organic crops. The trade fair is an initiative of the state government to encourage millets and other traditional grains and give a boost to sustainable and organic farming.

The event, which is expected to attract two million visitors, is being organised in collaboration with the Karnataka State Agricultural Produce Processing and Export Corporation Limited (KAPPEC) as co-organisers. The International Competence Centre of Organic Agriculture is its knowledge partner. Organic farming and millets are particularly pertinent for Karnataka, as the state is already a leader in organic and millet production in the country.
 
“Innovative, timely schemes and a growing health-conscious population have given the sector a great boost. The  potential is immense. The trade fair recognises the current gap and aims to fill those need-gaps,” government officials said.

“It is important for us to raise awareness and promote millets in daily diets due to its nutritional value and ease of cultivation,” they added.

“We are a dry agriculture state, and over the last 17 years, only three have witnessed no drought. We are very excited to be taking this step, and we hope to make millets a part of our daily diet again,” the officials stated.

Gowda lauded the efforts of the state’s farmers and agricultural producers for adopting millets and organics, and envisioned a future where traditional grains and millets will once more rightfully take their place on every Indian’s plate.
 
“With this conference, we hope to bring about a change in dietary habits and promote a more sustainable future,” he added.
 
The exhibition showcases products, crops, and 100 per cent organic supplies. There are state pavilions representing Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.

A book featuring millet recipes was also launched at the event, where corporates and private entities in agribusiness and agri retail, have also taken up stalls and are showcasing their products.

Companies and brands such as MTR foods, Mother India Agro foods, Nature-Bio Foods, Big Basket and TAFE have also established their presence.
 
Varun Berry, managing director, Britannia Industries Limited, was at the inauguration.
The company currently produces roughly 110 thousand tonne of biscuits thoughout the country. He said, “We expect to expand the health biscuit line by introducing millet lines and other grain-based lines.”

A Farmer’s Workshop facilitating knowledge sharing in sustainable and organic farming, among other topics, was inaugurated by Ashok Dalwai, director, National Rainfed Area Authority, government of India. The highlight of the workshop is that it is being held in Kannada.
 
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